Shoppers, tenants head elsewhere as Century Square mall renovation nears

Shoppers, tenants head elsewhere as Century Square mall renovation nears
Century Square, the oldest of three shopping centres in Tampines Central, will close in September for about a year. The 22-year-old mall is set to undergo its first major refurbishment since it opened in 1995. Photo: Kenneth Cheng/TODAY
Published: 4:00 AM, August 11, 2017
Updated: 5:21 AM, August 11, 2017

SINGAPORE — Weeks before Century Square mall in Tampines shuts for a major renovation, the number of people going there has fallen by as much as half, with anchor tenants leaving and shoppers seeking other options at nearby malls.

The oldest of three shopping centres in Tampines town, Century Square will close next month for about a year to undergo its first makeover since it opened in 1995.

The refurbishment, first reported by TODAY last month, is to revitalise its services and spaces.

The revamped mall will boast features such as a giant digital screen and a unique grocery-shopping experience, TODAY understands.

Renovation work is set to wrap up in the second quarter of next year.

In the last fortnight, anchor tenants such as department store BHG, cinema operator Shaw, and supermarket FairPrice Finest have closed their doors.

When TODAY visited the mall at lunchtime yesterday, crowds were noticeably thinner than those at nearby shopping complexes Tampines Mall and Tampines 1.

At a hair salon on the fourth storey of Century Square, a 54-year-old hairstylist, who declined to be named, said that the shop currently serves 20 patrons a day, down from 40 previously. It is set to close on Aug 29.

“The food court (and) cinema are no more; who wants to come?” she asked in Mandarin.

Mr Tony Tan, 57, who owns Purity Haven, an aromatherapy-product store, said crowds have halved since the end of last month, while Madam Stella Kok, 44, director of eyewear shop Universal Optical, reported that footfall has dropped by 20 per cent.

However, she said that many shops are holding moving-out sales, and some patrons are still popping in to grab “last-minute discounts”.

Universal Optical, one of the mall’s first tenants, is waiting to sign a contract to return to the revamped mall. Some other long-standing tenants have also made plans to return.

Beauty and personal care product retailer Tins and Bottles, which has been there for almost 20 years, will re-open in the middle of next year, shop manager Jessica Chua, 36, said.

In the interim it will operate at Eastpoint Mall in Simei.

Other tenants are moving elsewhere or exploring other forms of retail. Mr Tan from Purity Haven plans to set up an online shop by next month as he waits for word about leasing a pushcart at Tampines 1, while Mount Zion Christian Books and Gift Centre will move to Eastpoint Mall later this month.

Some Tampines residents told TODAY that they would look for other places to get the goods and services they need.

A housewife, who gave her name only as Madam Lim, 62, used to have her hair dyed and treated every six weeks at hair care centre Beijing 101 in Century Square.

With the shop now closed, she will have to visit the nearest outlet at Eastpoint, a 20-minute walk from her Tampines Street 11 home.

“(It’s) not convenient ... and the shop (at Eastpoint) is smaller,” Madam Lim said.

Father-of-three Muhammad Hilmi, 35, visits children’s department store Kiddy Palace once or twice a month.

The immigration officer will soon have to shop at the nearest branch in Bedok Mall, which is a 20-minute ride on public transport.

While it will be slightly “troublesome” to have to travel a bit further, he acknowledged that it was “not so far away”. “It’s not daily that we would go to these shops,” he said.