Shoppers have been left devastated by confirmation that a much-loved store is closing down this year after almost 40 years.
Kmart Northcote Plaza in Melbourne will shut its doors for good on November 22 2020 when their lease ends.
The department store’s spokesman Steven Man confirmed that the legendary store, which tranformed the local area when it opened in 1981 on a former brickworks site, will not continue trading.
Kmart Northcote’s closure comes as Amazon and other online retailers force Australian brands out of the retail market, spelling the end for high profile brands.
In the past year alone Harris Scarfe, Bardot, Roger David and Napoleon Perdis have collapsed, followed by Jeanswest, Colette Hayman, and Co-op bookstore.
While he didn’t explain why they decided to not renew their lease, Mr Mann said permanent staff members have been guaranteed jobs elsewhere.
Devastated locals took to social media in confusion as to why the bargain shop is closing down.
‘I can’t deal. I’m shock,’ one person wrote.
‘Let face it the entire plaza really needs to go if Kmart leaves,’ another wrote.
Australian retail growth is at its worst level since the early 1990s recession as Amazon and other online retailers driving local brands out of the market.
Harris Scarfe, founded in 1849, took consumers by surprise when it entered administration in Decmber and is now about to close at least 21 stores.
Days later the country’s sixth-largest wine company McWilliam’s Wines, which has been around for 140 years, announced it appointed voluntary administrators.
Popular video game chain EB Games was the next to announce their closure, with the business announcing the closure of 19 stores across Australia.
Major fashion chain Bardot also announced plans to close 58 stores nationwide before March.
Queensland University of Technology retail expert Dr Gary Mortimer said Australian companies were not being quick enough to adapt to the changing retail landscape and consumer preference.
‘We’ve seen a lot of market changes in Australia over the last decade, with global fashion retailers entering the market base and Aldi almost 20 years ago,’ he told 9news.
‘We have consumer changes and too much choice out there in the marketplace.’
In January popular jewellery and accessories chain Colette by Colette Hayman was placed into voluntary administration despite making $140million last year.
Administrators from Deloitte Restructuring Services said the country’s dire retail climate was at the centre of the business’s failure.
The brand has now been put in the hands of Vaughan Strawbridge, Sam Marsden and Jason Tracey.
Speaking to Daily Mail Australia Mr Smith said that internet companies had driven the retail disaster.
‘We will end up with just Amazon and Aldi and basically all the Aussie companies will be sent to bankruptcy,’ he said.
‘All those famous brands will go. Some of them might exist in name only but will be taken over by overseas companies.’
Mr Smith watched the electronics chain that bore his name crash in 2016, decades after he sold it in 1980. The collapse was one of Australia’s biggest retail failures.
The businessman was skeptical that even giants like Coles, Woolworths, David Jones and Myer would survive.
‘I don’t know how long the big department stores especially will be able to remain viable, but the writing is on the wall,’ he said.
Mr Smith said a overseas operators were smarter than almost anyone in the Australian market and ruthless enough to crush them.
Myer closed 74,670 square metres of stores in 2015-17 and shut down its Colonnades store in Adelaide and Belconnen outlet in Canberra.
The Hornsby store, in Sydney’s north, closed on Sunday after 40 years following a depressing fire sale of up to 80 per cent off.
David Jones has been owned by a South African conglomerate since 2014 and is struggling just as much as its arch-rival.
Whereas Aldi sales jumped 10 per cent in 2018 to about $9.2 billion and opened about 20 stores across the country last year. Coles was about $39 billion.
Amazon Australia’s sales reached $260 million in 2018, its first full year since opening, and are tipped to hit $23 billion in 10 years.
Roy Morgan chief executive Michele Levine said the brands most vulnerable to being forced out by Amazon were those that’s products were easily replicated.
‘Any brands that are commoditised are going to be in real strife,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.
‘The ones that are going to survive are the ones that have captured something special. Something that people will pay more because it’s unique or it speaks to them or they fall in love with it.’
Too many retailers are in this space, particularly big department stores without enough of an identity, and have resorted to perceptual discounts just to make sales.
Retail expert Brian Walker said those most at risk were big fashion chains that have existed for decades, because they could no longer rely on their in-store offerings to beat online rivals.
‘We’re seeing a very distinct line between shopping and buying. Buying is the domain of Ali Baba and Amazon, while shopping is inspirational, aspirational and emotional,’ he told 9 Finance.
Mr Evans said big retailers were also spending far too much on back-office staff and needed to slim down their operations to people with fresh ideas.
Smaller business, on the other hand, were being driven into the ground by landlords and shopping centres charging far too much in rent.