Ten Popular Retail Shops In Australia

On Friday I mentioned one of Australia’s major department stores, David Jones, when talking about The Welsh in Australia. That got me thinking about shopping in Australia and led me to a major realisation. In all the time we have known each other, we’ve never been shopping together.

So today I have decided to put that right. No need to grab your hat and coat, this is Queensland remember, you just need a T-shirt and shorts. Come on, we’re going to the…

shopsJust like in the UK and probably most countries, Australia has a set of retailers that seem to be present in almost every major shopping centre in every big city. Today we are going to visit 10 of the most popular.

I’m not saying these shops are THE most popular, but they will be high on the list for sure. So, let’s get stuck in, we’ve got a lot of shopping to do. Let’s start with…

Myer

MyerAlso mentioned briefly in last Friday’s post, Myer is David Jones’ biggest competitor; it is an upmarket department store along the lines of Debenhams.

Kmart

kmartI don’t think we really have stores like Kmart in the UK; it’s not a supermarket, it’s not really a department store, not as we know them. But Kmart sells lots of stuff. Clothes, men’s, women’s and children’s. Electrical goods. Toys. Stationary. Pharmaceuticals. Kitchen appliances. Bicycles. Garden equipment. Camping equipment. Car accessories.

And so much more.

Those who come here from the USA will be well accustomed to Kmart.

Target

TargetTarget, so my wife tells me, is the slightly upmarket version of Kmart, certainly where clothes are concerned. This upmarket reputation extends to Targets nickname which is “Tar-jai”.

Harvey Norman

harvey normanHarvey Norman appears to have big stores and “superstores”. You can buy computers, TVs, all kinds of electrical goods including white goods, furniture and bedding. Depending how big the store is that you are at, or whether it’s a superstore, there might be more stuff available to buy like garden furniture and gardening equipment.

What is unusual here is that Harvey Norman operates as a franchise and often each separate department within the store is run by a different franchisee. So someone may run the furniture franchise within the store and somebody else a computer and electrical franchise.

Sounds complicated but as a shopper you have no idea this is happening.

Terry White

terry whiteI couldn’t tell you if Terry White is the biggest chemists in Australia, but it’s certainly the one I seem to see the most in the major shopping centres. As far as pharmacy goes, they are pretty good, but I wouldn’t compare them with Boots in the UK who sell a much wider range of products than Terry White.

Officeworks

office worksThe name of this store says it all, they sell everything you could possibly need for your office and I mean everything. Maybe not toilet rolls, but don’t quote me on that. So if you want stationary, this is the place, unless…

Smiggle

smiggleUnless you are like my wife and daughter who like their stationery items to coordinate with each other. If you are the kind of person that likes your pencil case to match your pencil sharpener and your eraser to compliment them both, AND it all has to be in a certain shade of pink, then Smiggle is the place you go to for your stationery.

The Good Guys

the good guysThis is an electrical superstore, from computers to TVs, refrigerators to microwaves, air conditioning to portable heaters, The Good Guys have it all. Are they really Good Guys? I don’t know, I haven’t met them all.

Think Curry’s and you already know what they sell in The Good Guys.

Dick Smith

Update: Alas, Dick Smith went into liquidation in 2016 and is no more. It’s a sordid story involving a takeover by an equity firm, some very inventive accounting, a listing on the stock exchange, a half billion dollar stock market float and a disappearing act.

News.com.au explain it all in five easy steps.

This is what Dick Smith used to be though…

dick smithMore electrical stuff, just like above, except without the white goods. I think they used to specialise in specialist stuff like electrical components, you know, diodes, connectors and soldering irons. Think RadioShack for a comparison.

But I don’t think anybody buys that stuff any more, do they? Don’t we just throw stuff away and buy a new one?

JB Hi-Fi

jb hi-fiStaying electrical, JB Hi-Fi claim to have Australia’s biggest range of… Plasma, LED and LCD TV’s, Computers, Laptops, iPods, iPads, iPhones, MP3 Players, Mobile Phones, Home Theatre etc.

Their bigger stores also sell white goods and all of their stores sell DVD movies, DVD TV series and music CDs.

There you go, that’s my top 10 list of popular Australian retail stores. It’s in no particular order and it certainly doesn’t reflect sales, turnover, popularity or anything statistically accurate. They are just 10 shops I see a lot.

Time for a joke.

A guy walks into a bar and sits on a stool. “Don’t sit there” says the barman “that’s Big W’s stool.”

Well” says the guy “I don’t see no Big W in here now.” And he sits on the stool all the same.

Big W is going to be mighty cheesed off with you when he walks in” says the barman.

Three minutes later a huge guy walks into the bar, he’s 6 foot four and built like a house.

Gulp!” says the guy sitting on the stool “is that Big W?

No” says the barman, “that’s his little boy, this is Big W….”

big wSorry for the corny intro, but Big W is another popular store along the lines of Kmart and Target.

There you have my quick roundup of popular stores in Australia, 11 for the price of 10.

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{ 20 comments… add one }
  • Paula Fitzpatrick February 25, 2014, 4:21 pm | Link

    Big W might be owned by Woolworths but if you have ever been in a Walmart in the US or Canada and then go into a Big W you will definitely see all the similarities. Right down to the same signage. Same fonts used. Same smiley face. Someone was using Sam Walton’s influence.

    • BobinOz February 26, 2014, 12:08 am | Link

      Well I never knew, and clearly there has been some influence there. Maybe we have discovered what the W stands for?

      Thanks Paula, Bob

  • Paula February 25, 2014, 7:28 am | Link

    Hi Bob, loved your site before moving to oz and still love it.
    Big W is walmart by any other name and masters (similar to Bunnings) is the sames as Lowes in North America.

    • BobinOz February 25, 2014, 4:13 pm | Link

      Hi Paul

      Interesting comment, Big W is wholly-owned by Woolworths and Masters is a joint-venture between Woolworths and the company that owns Lowes in the US, so there is definitely a connection there.

      Cheers, Bob

  • Stefan November 28, 2013, 3:02 am | Link

    I have recently discovered your blog, a real gold mine of information. As I am planning a 4 weeks holiday in Australia over Christmas I was wondering what are the best sports retailers down under. Affordable and whit a bit of everything something along the lines of Sports Direct in the UK.

    • Seppo November 28, 2013, 6:19 am | Link

      Outdoor equipment: Ray’s Outdoors
      Sporting goods: Rebel Sports
      Mail order/online: Hart Sports

      • BobinOz November 28, 2013, 8:19 pm | Link

        Amart Sports are also worth a look. If you want cheap stuff though, worth looking in Big W, Target and Kmart, I think they all have sports sections of a sort.

  • Mukesh Sharma November 25, 2013, 8:04 pm | Link

    I think Bunnings deserves to be included in the list; very similar to B&Q in the UK!

    • BobinOz November 26, 2013, 12:20 am | Link

      Couldn’t agree more Mukesh, Bunnings is not so much a shop though, it’s like a second home. It’s like a man shed. Bunnings is simply A Real Australian Icon.

  • Angela November 23, 2013, 2:56 am | Link

    Hey Bob, another note is that Costco is being built in the North lakes area. It’s set to open in April 2014. If you’ve never been in one, it is a huge warehouse where you can buy in bulk. You have to pay a membership fee per calendar year, but if you have 3 growing kids that eat like horses, it pays you back. Also, some great deals on electronics too.

    • BobinOz November 25, 2013, 12:37 pm | Link

      Yes, I’ve heard about Costco being built here, I used to shop in their Thurrock store when I lived in the UK. Definitely good for bulk buying, it will be interesting to see how they do here.

  • Seppo November 14, 2013, 4:16 am | Link

    Bing Lee is more of a NSW icon, than anywhere else, so I’ll redact that one =)

  • Seppo November 13, 2013, 10:14 am | Link

    Bob,
    Two other faves…Bing Lee and the Reject Shop!!

    • BobinOz November 13, 2013, 1:13 pm | Link

      We don’t seem to have a Bing Lee around here, but we do have the Reject Shop, very cheap 🙂

      • Tim November 13, 2013, 5:42 pm | Link

        I’ve never even heard of Bing Lee?

        • BobinOz November 14, 2013, 12:09 am | Link

          I’ve seen them online, I think it’s electricals/white goods?

  • Tim November 6, 2013, 5:20 pm | Link

    Anaconda. The most fun shop in Australia; complete with climbing wall.

    • BobinOz November 7, 2013, 12:13 am | Link

      I’ve seen those climbing walls in Anaconda, but I’ve never actually seen anybody climb up them. Do people actually do that?

      “Hello sir, can I help you?”

      “No, it’s all right, I’m just here to climb up your wall.”

      Does that happen?

      • Tim November 13, 2013, 5:42 pm | Link

        I’ve seen a few people climb up there who looked suspiciously like they hadn’t bought anything…

        Next time I’m in there I’ll loiter and see 🙂

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