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Shopping in Australia – all you need to know!

Moving to Australia and researching what shops are available? in this guide to shopping in Australia you will find out everything you need to know.

Before we moved to Australia I desperately wanted to know about the prices of things – groceries, clothes, cars, electrical items and more! Basically, I was trying to work out a budget to ensure that we could afford a good lifestyle once we arrived. I also wanted to know if it was worth shipping our stuff or better to buy once we arrived.

(Disclaimer this is the Queensland version but I think its pretty much the same across the country!)

Luckily I had a friend who answered all my questions which made it considerably easier. Now I have been living in Australia for a few years and have some experience of balancing the books I thought I would share all I have learnt about shopping in Australia.

This guide to Australian shopping includes answers to these commonly asked questions and more!

  • What are the main supermarkets in Australia?
  • What are the best Australian shops for electrical goods, household goods, furniture, DIY and chemists?
  • What online shopping can I do in Australia?

Supermarkets in Australia

The main supermarkets in Queensland are Woolworths, Coles, IGA and Aldi.

There are obviously also smaller butchers, fruit and veg shops, bakeries etc, but Woolworths and Coles are basically the Aussie versions of UK Tesco, Sainsbury, Morrisons, and Asda.

coles shop in australia

Woolworth and Coles

Woolworths and Coles, as I mentioned, are the main supermarkets that you will find in Australia. Apparently, they account for 80% of the Aussie market. Even so they aren’t physically the size of the UK supermarkets.

If you want to do a virtual shop in Coles or Woolworths, you will need an Aussie postcode—mine is 4020 in Queensland, and if you are moving to Melbourne, 3088 is a postcode there. This will at least give you an idea of the cost of a weekly shop.

Both also have a small international food section with a selection of UK, Irish, New Zealand, South African foods. I stock up on Branston Pickle, Bisto Gravy and Coleman’s Mayonnaise!

international food section in coles

Both of them have loyalty programmes, and I would recommend joining. At Coles, you earn FlyBuys (these can also be earned in Kmart, Target and other shops in Australia)

In Australia, you can’t buy any alcohol in the supermarket. You can buy booze in drive-throughs, though! (And liquor stores)

Smaller supermarket chains in Australia

Aldi stores are located in Queensland, Western Australia, Victoria, New South Wales, and the Australian Capital Territory. Apparently, Lidl will also be opening stores soon.

IGA (Independent Grocers for Australia) stores are independently owned. There are about 1400 IGA’s across Australia.

IGA australia

Kmart shops

K MART shop in Australia.

Kmart is addictive. It sells loads of really cheap stuff! Their homeware section is really good. They also sell clothes, sports equipment, outdoor stuff, toys, books, games etc etc.

For an example of costs we bought a kettle for $15, a toaster for $15, a rice cooker $14, a steamer $39, a sandwich maker $15. Their kitchen section is excellent and cheap!

I am glad we didn’t ship much in the way of kitchenware, as it is so cheap in Kmart and wasn’t cost-effective. We also bought some towels and bedding from Kmart. (Note – a doona is the Aussie name for a duvet)

Shopping for electrical goods in Australia

JB Hi-Fi specialises in home entertainment. You can also find home appliances for sale there too.

The Good Guys are all over Australia and sell every type of electrical appliance you can think of. You can also shop on-line with The Good Guys.

Harvey Norman sells electrical goods as well as furniture but are generally acknowledged as being more expensive.

Tip: Always ask if it is the best price they can offer. We Brits are not generally good at this, but they seriously expect you to haggle, especially if you are buying a lot of stuff!

Furniture stores in Australia

For furniture, I would look at Amart. They sell packages so you can get all you need for one room in one go.

Harvey Norman also sells furniture.

Ikea stores can be found in 10 locations across Australia, though they have many more collection points for goods ordered online across the continent.

Tip – When they talk about a lounge in Australia, they aren’t talking about the room but rather a sofa.

furniture in a room

DIY stores in Australia

Bunnings is your B&Q equivalent in Australia—with snags. Having a sausage sizzle at Bunnings is a bit of an Aussie tradition and has to be done! Snags are sausages, and if you see the white marquee outside the entrance, stop off to buy a sausage sizzle on two slices of bread with some onions/ketchup, etc.

Bunnings provides the sausage sizzle, and the funds benefit the local community, such as your local scouts group. So buy a sausage sizzle!

bunnings diy store - shopping in australia
(By Bidgee – Own work, CC BY 3.0, Link)

Department stores in Australia

There are a number of department store chains across Australia including –

Myer is a quite upmarket Australian department store chain. It sells a broad range of products, including women’s, men’s and children’s clothing, footwear and accessories, cosmetics and fragrance, homewares, furniture and bedding, electrical, toys,  books and stationery, food and confectionery and travel goods.

Big W is a division of Woolworths in Australia. It has 182 stores across the country. It is a discount department store. I buy large bottles of washing powder, shower gel, and body lotion from there.

Target. According to their website, “Target is an iconic Australian retailer dedicated to making fashion, style and quality affordable for the whole family.” I do quite like Target for clothes and find the prices very reasonable.

Chemists in Australia

Chemist Warehouse is a discount chemist that prides itself on being Australia’s cheapest.

UK stores with an online presence in Australia

So how can I shop in Australia and buy some of my favourite UK brands?

Some UK retailers, including Next and Marks and Spencer, sell their goods in Australia. Prices seem reasonably comparable to those in the UK, and the online catalogues reflect the correct season.

I’m not sure the links will work outside Australia without a VPN, but here they are, Next and Marks & Spencer.

Amazon also has a strong online presence in Australia after opening here in 2018.

Buying second hand in Australia

Why buy new when you can find great deals on second hand? Shopping in Australia for used items?

If you check out Gumtree and your local Marketplace on Facebook, you will find some really great deals on used furniture/white goods etc.

There are also local Facebook groups worth joining.

Moving to Australia? Read more!

If you are emigrating to Australia you will find the following articles helpful: