Big box update

Modifications requested for planned Bunnings Wagga store

Bunnings announced it has teamed up with Afterpay for in-store payments, but with no minimum spend attached

Wagga City Council's approval for the proposed 18,000sqm Bunnings store on the corner of the Sturt Highway and Pearson Street in Wagga Wagga (NSW) came with a number of conditions. They include the design and configuration of traffic lights at the intersection of Pearson and Bye Streets.

The previously submitted plans for the development included entries and exits for customers on the Sturt Highway and Pearson Street. To preserve traffic flow, council has said the highway access must be entry-only and the Pearson Street accessway must be removed entirely. Council wanted to make Saxon Street the only exit for customers leaving the store.

Bunnings has submitted a request to the council, asking it to modify the consent conditions to allow for an additional customer exit directly onto Pearson Street.

The hardware retailer argued the current restrictions would divert almost all of their customers through the "arduous and counter-intuitive" Saxon Street exit, according to The Daily Advertiser.

Representing the interests of Bunnings, town planner Aaron Sutherland submitted the request, and said funnelling all vehicles from the hardware store through Saxon Street would create serious traffic issues. He wrote:

The current approval requires all customers wishing to leave Bunnings to undertake the arduous and counter-intuitive trek around the rear of the building. The compresses the entirely of all Bunnings egress traffic into a convoluted and inconvenient egress pathway which is considered a poor traffic planning outcome.

The only other customer exit currently permitted for the $24 million development is a merging lane onto the Sturt Highway heading out of Wagga.

Mr Sutherland argued the majority of customers would want to head east toward the city's CBD after leaving Bunnings - making the highway exit inconvenient for them and forcing them down Saxon Street.

The council rejected the original request for an exit on Pearson Street due to fears it would create major congestion at the nearby roundabout. Specifically, there were concerns many cars leaving the Bunnings would turn left onto Pearson Street and then make a u-turn at the Sturt Highway roundabout to then head south toward Glenfield Park.

Bunnings' request to modify the conditions includes modelling conducted by Transport and Traffic Planning Associates which suggests the exit would not create any issues at the intersection.

Wagga City Council has placed the request to allow a Pearson Street exit at the Bunnings site on public exhibition until October 7.


Bunnings store development in Wagga Wagga (NSW) - HNN Flash #76, December 2021

BNPL at Bunnings

Bunnings has introduced Afterpay in time for the busy DIY/renovation period during spring and summer. It will offer the popular BNPL (buy now, pay later) service for in-store purchases across its 375 outlets, but there is no minimum spend required to access the service.

Afterpay allows customers to split the upfront cost of a purchase into four, interest-free payments over six weeks. It is free for customers who pay on time. Those who don't keep up with instalments are charged a late fee, which is capped at 25% of the total purchase price or $68, whichever is lower.

The decision to offer a BNPL also comes as many Australians feel the pressure of rising inflation, forcing many to cut back on household expenses such as renovation projects.

Katrina Konstas, executive vice president and country manager at Afterpay said 34% of Australians enjoy DIY projects and hobbies.

Australia is a nation of DIYers with a passion for their homes and gardens, and nothing embodies this more than our national love for Bunnings. We are excited that Afterpay will now be available to Bunnings' shoppers, which will help Aussies to create inviting spaces within their homes, while balancing their budget.

To checkout with Afterpay in-store, customers need to first install the payment app, and add the Afterpay card to their digital wallets.

About BNPL

Software company Block, formerly known as Square, acquired Afterpay at the end of January 2022.

In the US and Australia, Block said BNPL transaction sizes were three times bigger than those paid all at once. Globally, the number of new customers paying with Afterpay's service grew by 180% between February and March this year, the company said.

BNPL companies have faced some criticism in the wake of their growing popularity. Critics have said the payment option allows consumers to rack up debt.

In Australia, an issues paper canvassing the options for BNPL regulation is scheduled to land in October. Treasury is undertaking a review of the sector to decide how to best bring it within credit regulation, including garnering feedback from the industry.

Financial Services Minister Stephen Jones said impending regulation of the BNPL sector is intended to create a "level playing field" and not stifle competition among lenders.

Large players such as Afterpay have argued their instalment payment product is not a form of credit because interest is not charged, and often market BNPL as a budgeting tool.

Afterpay does not conduct credit checks of customers but its main rival, Australia Zip, undertakes identification and credit assessments.

As a form of limited self-regulation, the domestic industry has formalised a BNPL code of practice that came into effect in March 2021. Players bound by the code include Afterpay, Brighte, Humm, Klarna, Latitude, Openpay, Plenti and Zip.

The BNPL sector faces a host of challenges, including a surge in funding costs, rising bad debts and greater competition from banks and other players. Despite four straight monthly rate hikes by the Reserve Bank, retail spending by consumers has remained resilient. That bodes well for the instalments sector, which needs to keep turning over its loan book to earn fees from retailers and other merchants.

Players offering the product will need to be approved by the Financial Conduct Authority, and borrowers will be able to complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service. A consultation on draft legislation is slated to be released toward the end of 2022, followed by secondary legislation by mid-2023. After that, the FCA will consult on its rules for the sector.

  • Sources: The Daily Advertiser, Daily Mail Australia, 9News, National Post (Canada) and The Australian
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