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Barcelona's famed shopping line is reputed to be five kilometres long.   The shopping line's fashion boutiques begin at the north end of one of Europe's most celebrated avenues, La Rambla, continue around the Placa de Catalunya and on up Passeig de Gracia, before taking a left-hand turn and finally petering out on Avenue Diagonal.  

There are few better places in the world that you could come to right now if you want to see what is happening in global fashion retail.

And if you are an Australian retailer, small or large, you will be treated to a comprehensive field lesson in what successful retailers are doing right and what unsuccessful ones are doing wrong.

A good place to start this retailing clinic is the three-level Zara store opposite the southwest corner of Placa de Catalunya.   Zara is part of the Inditex group, headquartered in Arteixo in northwest Spain, that operates more than 4000 stores worldwide and is present on every continent except Australia.  

Inditex is a 10 billion euros retailing group, making it the largest clothing retailer in the world.   It generates about 25% more in annual sales than all of the clothing specialty stores in Australia put together.

On a recent Friday evening the Zara store was the site of a shopper feeding frenzy.   At times the queue was more than 20 deep at the register, which was staffed by six people.  

The checkout process was efficient and took less than 15 minutes despite the snaking line of customers carrying armfuls of treasure.   The cashiers in Spanish stores are legendary for their distractability, but there was no sign of it here.

Why is Zara so busy, in this nation where the unemployment rate, currently at 13.9%, is the largest in the eurozone?

Zara, like its sibling retailers within the Inditex group, is popularly referred to as a cheap chic or fast fashion retailer.   This means it is lightning fast-to-market with new designs (as little as six weeks compared with more than six months for...

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