Shopping in Australia is Quirky Tile Thumb

Shopping in Australia is Quirky

10th February 2017

Shopping in Australia can be quite a different experience in some ways. Of course, there are the usual things you'd expect to be different - brands, opening hours, customer service levels and so on. Also that alcohol is sold in separate shops - bottle-o/bottle shops.

What I'm referring to is some of the language and behaviour that can be common here that I've not experienced elsewhere.

Here is a taster of what might stand out as being different:

Cheque, savings or credit?

When you pay with a debit or credit card (called 'EFTPOS' here, which stands for Electronic Funds Transfer Point of Sale), you will be asked 'cheque, savings or credit?' - credit is that you'd like to use the card as a credit card facility. If you'd like to use it as a debit card to deduct the funds from your bank account, most people here have 2 accounts. One everyday account and the other savings account - this gets allocated when you initially set up your bank accounts. Cheque or savings relates to which bank account you'd like your funds to be debited from.

Is that your best price?

Bargaining and asking for best deals is common and almost expected when buying certain big-ticket items and even smaller items like electronics. This is especially true if you are buying a number of items and can save you between 5–20% depending on what and how much you are buying, where you are shopping, and, in some cases, how you choose to pay. I know that, for many, this will seem strange and uncomfortable, but it can save valuable cash in your early days.


Layaway or layby may be offered at some retailers. This is essentially an agreement where the buyer pays instalments for an item that they don’t want to (or cannot) pay for in one go. The seller stores the item until it is paid for in full. This is popular for those who may have bad credit and for whom repaying the debt through a credit card or other means is not possible. 

Think carefully before buying

This is a term you may see near a till, reminding you that the shop in question will not offer a refund if you decide that you simply don’t want an item. In such a shop, a refund will only be offered it the item is found to be faulty – as part of your statutory rights. In most cases an exchange is possible, but many retailers are sticklers for having your receipt in any case as a proof of purchase. This is changing, and department and larger stores tend to be more flexible with refunds. 


Runners - running shoes

Bathers/cozzie/swimmers - swimming costume

Daks/pants - trousers

Thongs - flip flops

Sunnies - sunglasses

Slab - case of 24 bottles of beer

Manchester - bed linen and towels

Lounge - sofa, couch

Grog - alcohol

Lollies - sweets, candies

Doona - duvet, comforter

Capsicum - pepper

Canola oil - rapeseed oil

Bottle-O/bottle shop - place where liquor is sold

Snags - sausages

Exy - short for expensive