Celiac Supplies store sign (BarrettFox/Reddit)

A gluten-free, wheat-free store in Australia has come under fire for charging customers A$5 (£3.50) just for looking at products on display.

Celiac Supplies in Brisbane complained that it had too many people going into the store to find out which products were gluten and wheat-free and then going to buy them elsewhere.

A poster has been put up in the store's window that informs customers of the charge and explains the reasons for it.

Reddit user BarrettFox uploaded the image of the sign saying: "When they open tomorrow I'm going to see how many times I can walk in and out without paying the toll."

The store owner, known only as Georgina, said that 60 people went into the shop every week, asked her questions about her products, then went somewhere else to buy them.

"I've had a gutful of working and not getting paid. I'm not here to dispense a charity service for Coles and Woolworths to make more money," she said.

"I can tell straight away who are the ratbags who are going to come in here and pick my brain and disappear.''

She said some people had been put off by the sign but others had paid the browsing charge. She claimed her prices matched many supermarkets.

The $5 is charged initially then deducted from the bill if goods are purchased in the shop. "This policy is in line with many other clothing, shoe and electronic stores who are also facing the same issue," the sign reads.

Russell Zimmerman, executive director of the Australian Retailers Association, said that while he had heard of clothing stores charging customers to try on clothes, he had never known a shop to charge a browsing fee.

"If I walked into the store and was told I was going to be charged to browse my immediate reaction would be to leave,'' he said.

"You are missing the opportunity for the browsing customer to actually buy from you.''

He suggested Georgina would more likely put people off visiting her shop. Smaller stores should emphasise their unique selling point and offer good customer service to entice more business, he suggested.

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