The ACCC has effectively ‘ticked and flicked’ the Shopping Centre Council of Australia’s Casual Mall Licensing Code of Practice.
The Shopping Centre Council of Australia represents shopping centres throughout Australia.
The code relates to casual mall licensing, which involves the granting of a right to occupy part of the common area of a shopping centre for a short period of time (normally less than one month, but up to 180 days) ‘usually for product launches and demonstrations, stock clearance sales and brand awareness campaigns.’
Casual mall licensing has become an increasingly common feature of shopping centres in Australia, and is being heavily promoted by shopping centre groups.
In November and December last year Nikon opened a series of ‘pop up stands‘ in Westfield shopping centres around the country to provide hands-on demonstrations, with free gifts to consumers who made $250-and-above purchases of Nikon products in Nikon-supporting stores in those centres.
Nikjon also offered consumers a 20 percent discount from the pop-up stands for products purchased from the Nikon online store.
The renewed code places minimal restrictions on the granting of casual mall licences: A competitor can’t have a casual mall licence directly adjacent to or in front of an existing tenant, ‘under limited circumstances’.
‘The ACCC considers the Code is likely to continue to result in public benefits by striking a balance between providing certainty and transparency for permanent retail tenants and also providing shopping centres with flexibility to introduce casual mall licensees within a shopping centre,’ ACCC deputy chair Michael Schaper said.
‘This will allow small businesses to make better informed business decisions as there will be certainty regarding matters that may affect their tenancy arrangements.’
– That appears to be the certainty that they have no rights when competitors set up temporary shop nearby!
COMMENT: What a great way for grey marketers to establish a beach-head in traditional retail centres. Just set up with a range of popular demonstrator cameras and accessories and a few computer terminals from which the customers can place their offshore orders and Hey Presto! GST-free sales at you friendly local shopping mall. But of course, shopping centre management wouldn’t allow it…Would they? Given the ACCC’s lunatic attitude towards the consumer and competition (if they can get it for a buck less, it’s a Good Thing) could they legally prevent it even if they wanted to?