Amazon has reopened its global website to Australian consumers, with the backflip coming just in time for Black Friday sales.
The giant online retailer closed the global store to Australians in July after the federal government introduced changes to the GST – known colloquially as the “Amazon tax”. It placed the 10% tax on all low-value overseas purchases and businesses with a turnover of more than $75,000.
On Wednesday night, Amazon bowed to pressure from local shoppers and Scott Morrison, who had slammed the retailer for deciding to “take their bat and ball and go home” while he was treasurer.
“As a result of customer feedback, from November 22 Amazon customers will be able to ship eligible items from amazon.com to Australian delivery addresses,” an Amazon spokesman said.
The company had faced a backlash because Australian shoppers were unable to access the larger range and cheaper prices available on the international website. There are about 80 million products on the Australian store, compared to 500 million on the US site.
Amazon said the initial move to close the global store to Australians had been a “difficult decision” that the company had made “in order to remain compliant with the legislation”.
But the spokesman said the company had “listened to the customer feedback” in reopening the global store.
While products stocked and sold by Amazon itself will now be available, those sold by third parties will remain blocked until the retailer finds a way to apply the tax.
The backflip comes ahead of Black Friday sales on 23 November and as the company was hit by a major data breach in the UK.
Meanwhile, the move is likely another blow for local Australia retailers, which have been experiencing sluggish sales growth. In particular, giant department store Myer has seen its shares continue to tumble following weak sales figures.
As treasurer, Morrison had said Amazon’s suggestion that it could not find a way to apply the GST on overseas goods was “hard to believe”.
“I think it’s disappointing that Amazon will take this out on consumers in Australia but that’s their commercial decision,” he said in June.
“If they don’t like selling things into Australia because they don’t like paying tax, there are plenty of options here at home.”
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