Has Woolworths Australia become dangerously complacent?

They are more concerned with "saving the planet" than with selling stuff

Woolworths Australia is one of the world's most successful retailers -- unlike Woolworths USA and Woolworths Britain -- which have both gone bust. But the Australian version only got there by making lots of good decisions and some of the current management seem to me to be making bad decisions. They should reflect that Woolworths USA and Woolworths Britain were once in a strong position too -- until they grew complacent and stopped being self-critical.

Woolworths' ranging decisions (decisions about what to stock) in particular seem to have gone off the rails. I first noticed that when I found that they no longer stock the old incandescent light bulbs. They now stock only the mercury-polluted twisty globes -- even though they are not as yet legally obliged to do that. So people who don't like the twisty globes for whatever reason have to spend their money elsewhere -- as I did. Is that a clever stocking policy? It's certainly not a commercial one. I stocked up on the old globes at Coles.

That was only the start, however. I have now gone three more times to Woolworths and not found what I sought -- only to find what I sought at the little Indian bargain shop just outside my Buranda Woolworths. First I could not find Christmas cards with a Christian theme. Only Santas and reindeer and holly and such secular stuff. But the Indian guy had them. I blogged about that and Christian-themed Christmas cards suddenly made an appearance at Woolworths a few days later. Coincidence? Probably. There are a lot of Christians about so a major retailer has to be pretty dumb to ignore them.

Next I wanted a Thermos flask. Another completedly mundane purchase. You guessed it. Woolworths had nary a one but the Indian guy did. So he again got my money even though I had walked into Woolworths first.

Thirdly, just today I wanted to buy a wall clock. Another mundane purchase. Same story as the Thermos flask.

I really think that Woolworths should put their stocking decisions into more senior or more commercially-oriented hands. My specific recommendation? Cut their huge display of twisty globes in half and put in some clocks and thermos flasks and old globes instead. I am guessing that not all the twisty lines are fast-moving so there would certainly be nothing lost by doing so.

I had a friendly conversation with what seemed a fairly senior person at the local Woolworths and said to him roughly what I have said above. He replied that he too had often had to send disappointed customers to the Indian guy -- even though the Indian guy has only about a tenth of the floorspace that Woolworths has. And you usually don't have to queue up at the Indian shop either. And his prices are VERY reasonable. Jai Hind!

Posted by John Ray. For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. For a daily survey of Australian politics, see AUSTRALIAN POLITICS Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me (John Ray) here

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