Dec. 16 - Australia is being targeted by a swathe of foreign retailers, piling pressure on a local industry already battered by weak consumer spending and ruthless internet competition. Sarah Charlton reports.
Australia is in the midst of a foreign invasion, as big brands expand down under. Williams Sonoma and Uniqlo are among international retailers opening stores next year. But they're piling pressure on a local industry facing weak consumer spending and fierce internet competition. Spending has actually stalled in Australia, but for foreign retailers it's the long-term prize that's up for grabs. Russell Zimmerman is from Australia's retail association. SOUNDBITE: RUSSELL ZIMMERMAN, AUSTRALIAN RETAILERS ASSOCIATION SAYING (English): "There's a plethora of retailers looking at Australia at the moment, they see the opportunity so they see that within the future there will be great gains to be made in Australia and that's why they're setting themselves up now. They're doing it while the conditions are right, so as the economy turns, as things get better, so they can be there." Internet shopping is one way foreign retailers are tapping into consumer markets. Topshop has used online shops to pinpoint local demand before stores open. Retail experts say local businesses face huge challenges competing against these companies. SOUNDBITE: BRIAN WALKER, RETAIL DOCTOR GROUP SAYING (English): "They have to invest in the business. They have to invest in the people and get different people into the organisation that are sharp in web design, that are sharp in consumer behaviour." With big brands at their shores, experts say local businesses face a tough future saying afloat in a changing industry.