Blame it on the global financial crisis, the rise of the mega-mall, the online shopping revolution or our sky-high dollar but the boutique retail sector is suffering. Clothing and footwear sales declined 4.8 per cent in the year to December and a stroll down any of Sydney's once-burgeoning shopping precincts will reveal a stream of sale signs and, worse, empty stores.
In the latest twist, retailers have resorted to charging try-on fees in store, which are refunded upon purchase, to stop consumers heading online to search for the same item at a lower price.
Besieged by the new world of e-commerce, it is no longer enough for traditional bricks-and-mortar stores to fill their racks and then wait for the customers to roll in.
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