Singapore Sale no longer great, say shops, public

Singapore Sale no longer great, say shops, public
Shoppers at Orchard during the Great Singapore Sale. TODAY file photo
Published: 11:50 PM, August 12, 2017
Updated: 10:37 PM, August 13, 2017

SINGAPORE — Despite this year’s strong digital push and special promotions, the Great Singapore Sale (GSS) — which ran from June 9 to August 13 — barely made an impact, according to shoppers and retailers who spoke to TODAY.

From being one of the highlights of the retail calendar, the GSS seems to have lost its lustre. Many business owners and consumers were dismissive of the event, and said people now preferred to shop online or overseas.

“GSS or no GSS, business is down. The market is very competitive and with high rentals and labour costs, there is a limit to which we can drop prices. Tourists do not buy here as much as they used to,” said Mr David Chan, owner of footwear store Lucky Polo Enterprises at Lucky Plaza along Orchard Road.

Ms Winnie Sim, assistant manager of business development at the BU outlet in Tampines Mall, which sells nutritional supplements and skincare products, agreed that the GSS did not make a difference to her business.

“We prefer doing bigger promotions during the year-end festive season and not during the GSS. Consumers do not relate to GSS anymore,” she said.

The retail scene however saw some respite in June. According to the latest data on the retail price index by the Department of Statistics Singapore, retail sales in June picked up by 1.9 per cent compared to the same period last year. Excluding motor vehicles, retail sales increased by 4.0 per cent year-on-year.

CIMB Private Bank economist Mr Song Seng Wun however attributed the improvement in sales to other factors. “GSS is a non-event and we should not confuse it with June retail sales numbers. It is more impacted by spending related to Muslim festivities during the month which is evident given the surge in sales of items like watches, jewellery, furniture and household items besides increased spending at departmental stores,” he said.

Ms Irene Yeo, a retired hotel employee, said the GSS was no longer such a big deal. Previously, shoppers would wait to purchase their high-end fashion brands, including clothes and accessories, during the GSS because the items would go on steep discounts then. Now things have changed.

“Youngsters today are shopping on the go all year through. My daughter refuses to go shopping and wants stuff delivered to our doorstep. And why not, it is much cheaper that way and things can be exchanged effortlessly,” she said.

Other consumers like Ang Mo Kio resident Ms Hema said the timing of the sales was inconvenient, and she had avoided shopping during the GSS period as her daughter is taking the Primary School Leaving Examination this year. “It doesn’t matter absolutely. We shop throughout the year and are not looking for anything in particular during GSS,” the mother of two children told TODAY.

Ms Archana Pani, who works at a logistics firm, said she prefers to shop online or “pick up stuff on holiday trips overseas”, as both options are much cheaper and more convenient.

Despite the trend toward e-commerce however not all online retailers were enthusiastic about the GSS.

“We did not see any significant sales increase in this year’s GSS, which does not come as a surprise considering the stagnant outlook in the overall retail industry,” said Mr HyunWook Cho, Singapore country manager at Qoo10. “Our peak period continues to be Singles’ Day in November and all the way to Christmas and year-end festivities.”

Regional player Lazada however said it sold five times more products in June this year versus the same period last year. The online chain declined to reveal its July figures.

“This GSS, there was an uplift across all categories ... As consumer shopping behaviour changes, retailers must be ready to adapt accordingly,” said Mr Andrea Baronchelli, chief marketing officer at Lazada Singapore.