Many men would call it a blessing but, for me, it is a curse. My wife adores sport. And she drags me to obscure matches all the time. That's why I was in Melbourne over easter; to watch two teams I know only as 'The Hawks' and 'The Cats' play with a funny shaped ball in front of 80,000 other fans.
The very same weekend was important for another reason. International retail chains H&M and Uniqlo opened their first Australian stores on Bourke Street. Like at the AFL, Melbournians cheered the two competitors enthusiastically. As you can see from my photo, they also formed orderly queues spanning hundreds of meters for a chance just to enter the shop.
People stopped to gawk at the queues. Visiting Europeans were astonished. Local retailers were worried.
Over at David Jones and Myer, they say consumers are on strike; that they are reluctant to spend. The queues say otherwise. They are proof that incumbents have failed to deliver customers what they want. The two locals will have to lift dramatically to compete with the superstars of retailing; Zara, Uniqlo, H&M and Topshop. Perhaps competition will be the impetus needed to improve their business and strengthen it. More likely, it will hasten the decline of local department stores.