I must admit, I don't even really understand why Harvey Norman is pushing so strongly for the GST limit to be lowered on items purchased overseas as I can't see that they would lose a significant amount of business because of that.
After all, what do HN sell? Whitegoods, other kitchen items, TVs, computers, camera, digital music players and other things. To be frank, I just can't see people bothering to buy a lot of that stuff from overseas, with the exception of cameras and perhaps some digital music players. All the rest of the stuff, from fridges and washing machines, through to mixers and grillers, to computers and TVs, would just be too awkward to buy overseas and too expensive to ship here. Surely, people buying cameras, digital music players and small electronic accessories overseas isn't killing Harvey Norman's business?
Ultimately - as has been said here numerous times before - what HN and others need to realise is that they must provide good service, otherwise people will go elsewhere. If they provide a sufficient number of well-trained, polite and helpful sales staff, people will be happier to shop in those places. The same point, multiplied by 1000, applies to Myer and DJs. I realise that things in retail have changed a lot since I was young, but I remember going to Myer and DJs whilst in high school and having plenty of sales staff to help and, what's more, the staff were helpful but neither pushy nor obsequious, and they actually knew what they were talking about, too.
There are places like Appliances Online, for example, which sell white goods and other electronic goods and they're Sydney based with free delivery. I've bought from them, I'm sure many others have as well. I just bought a leather chesterfield wing chair direct from the manufacturer online. DJs sell an almost identical chair (from Moran) for $5,000-$6,000. Mine cost $1,300 with a better warranty period to boot. Now, even taking into account the increase in cost when buying from a retailer rather than the manufacturer, that increase can't be $4K-$5K?
More and more people are buying all sorts of goods online simply because of the better price being offered in many cases. In truth, they'd be fools not to.