Aussie store charges $5 browsing fee to deter online shoppers

5 dollar note
It will cost you this much to enter the store and browse

In the face of growing online competition, a food store in Brisbane, Australia is charging a $5 fee to people who enter the store to browse their wares.

A photo taken by a Reddit forum member shows a printed sign in the store's window saying that this drastic action is in response to people who visit the store, take notes, then buy the products online or from the major supermarket chains. The fee is waived if a purchase is made.

"I've had a gut full of working and not getting paid," the store owner told the AAP, identifying herself only as Georgina. She says she can spot the "rat bags" who only come into her specialty store, catering to people with Celiac disease, just to "pick her brains and disappear."

Showrooming with a view (to buy elsewhere)

In the sign posted in the store window, she says that this practice is in line with action taken by other retails stores in the clothing, shoe and electronics sectors; a practice known as "showrooming".

Not surprisingly, the majority of the responses to this move, both on Reddit and from retail experts, have pointed out that this action is likely to decrease business to the store, despite Georgina telling the AAP that non-rat bags are happy to pay the fee and tend to be sympathetic to her plight.

The $5 figure also happens to be the magic price difference that will convince people to buy online rather than instore, according to a report on showrooming produced by US market research firm GroupM Next last year.

Charging it up-front is likely have to have customers turning to the competition before they even begin their price comparisons.