$5 'Just Looking' Fee: Grocer Causes Stir, Aims to End Showrooming

Tuesday, 26 Mar 2013 01:39 PM

By Charlotte Moore

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Shoppers are familiar with the old You Break, You Buy adage. But now, some of them will also be shelling out the bucks…to browse.

Celiac Supplies in Australia has just launched what could end up being a popular practice for other scorned retailers. The gluten-free grocer posted a notice for customers on its door which reads, “As of the first of February, this store will be charging people a $5 fee per person for ‘just looking.’ The $5 fee will be deducted when goods are purchased.”

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The grocer isn’t the first to consider charging customers to look. Paying to peruse? Cha-ching just to check something out? There’s a reason behind the drastic move.

Celiac Supplies is not the only store to complain about customers coming in, browsing the aisles, looking merchandise over and even trying it out only to jump online to actually purchase the items for digital merchants.

“There has been high volume of people who use this store as a reference and then purchase goods elsewhere,” Celiac’s notice continues. “These people are unaware our prices are almost the same as the other stores plus we have products simply not available anywhere else.”

The owner of Celiac Supplies told the Australian Associated Press she has “had a gut full of working and not getting paid. I’m not here to dispense a charity service for Coles and Woolworths to make more money.”

Georgina, the owner who didn’t want her last name published, went on to say, “I can tell straight away who are the rat bags who are going to come in here and pick my brain and disappear.”

Georgina says her new approach to business has made some customers turn around while others are willing to pay to browse. Some area experts in the industry say the practice will likely do more at turning shoppers away, though.

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The new pay-to-browse concept has stirred up conversation in the Twittersphere. @Minus 777 tweets “I guess they’ll soon be out of business.” Nicole Jensen tweets, somewhat sarcastically, “This won’t be bad for business, at all, ever.”

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