FITTING fees are being introduced by Hunter retailers to discourage online shoppers from taking up valuable staff time with no intention of purchasing in-store.
Mario Borrelli, owner of Newcastle Rock Shop, has introduced a $10 fitting fee for customers prepared to spend half an hour or more trying on designer shoes without committing to a sale.
The $10 comes off the purchase price, or is transferred to a credit voucher for use at any other time, on any item in the store, Mr Borrelli said.
"If they can't pay $10 to get a correct fitting then in other words they are not interested," he said.
"Ski shops are charging $50, wedding places are charging $50, and I can't imagine having a camera shop. Some people can take up to an hour trying on different shoes, it's usually about 20 minutes to half an hour to get it right, and . . . the $10 doesn't even cover their wage.
"We are not doing it because we are greedy for $10, we are doing it because it's a service, and the service we give is a very good service."
But others, like Dive Skate and Ski store owner Peter Freeman, have steered away from the concept on the basis that Newcastle was not ready for fitting fees.
"It's all about online shopping," Mr Freeman said.
Where previously customers were reluctant to admit they were seeking product and fitting advice to later shop online, it was becoming more socially acceptable and people were now quite open about it, he said
"It happens all the time, and it's insulting, but we have got to then work out the best way to combat that issue, and we have taken a different approach, going very heavily into customer service."
Mr Freeman says it has been suggested the amount of business going offshore as a result of online shopping is between 7 and 8 per cent, but he estimates it's much higher, between 30 and 40 per cent.