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Great Singapore Sale back with even bigger discounts

SINGAPORE — The Great Singapore Sale (GSS) is back with a vengeance this year as retailers roll out drastic price cuts and unique promotions to entice shoppers to loosen purse strings even as the economic slowdown and tighter budgets dampen sentiment.

Photo: Lin Yanqin

Photo: Lin Yanqin

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SINGAPORE — The Great Singapore Sale (GSS) is back with a vengeance this year as retailers roll out drastic price cuts and unique promotions to entice shoppers to loosen purse strings even as the economic slowdown and tighter budgets dampen sentiment.

Some leading chains even started their promotion period early this year with product ranges lined up at discounts close to 70 per cent. The GSS — spread over 10 weeks — officially starts on June 3 and ends on Aug 14.

This is the only way to go for the brick-and-mortar players, said analysts, as the outlook for the retail sector is increasingly challenging with rising labour and supply chain costs, weak domestic and tourist demand, and competition from e-commerce.

“We will have a longer selling period of six weeks versus four weeks last year due to the intense competition this year and also because we wanted our shoppers to have more time to shop for all the good deals,” said a BHG spokeswoman, pointing at “steep discounts” of up to 70 per cent on products across categories at its stores. The department store — which kicked off its sale on May 20 — is also offering shoppers S$18 vouchers with a minimum spend of S$80 with Bank of China cards from June 3 to 26.

Japanese department store Isetan, meanwhile, has lined up a Bridal and Hokkaido Fair and price discounts of up to 70 per cent on its range of products.

“The price competition will be more intense (this time during the GSS period) as retail has been experiencing a longer than expected downward cycle. It can be better if the tourist numbers can recover to previous years and can make a difference if the new strategy targeting the Chinese market succeeds,” said an Isetan spokesperson.

Against the usual start of GSS in May, the annual sale extravaganza is being strategically positioned to start on June 3 to coincide with a long weekend in China, particularly to lure tourists from the mainland.

Another well-known name, Robinsons — with outlets at The Heeren, Jem and Raffles City — has also kicked off the GSS earlier, offering up to 70 per cent off on some of its product ranges. On a bill of over S$150, shoppers at Robinsons stand to win prizes including a Volvo XC60, S$2,000 worth of Robinsons gift vouchers and Canon EOS 80D camera. Others, such as Metro and OG as well as more niche retailers such as baby supplies store Mothercare and hardware chain Home-Fix, also started their sales ahead of the official launch of the GSS.

Not to be outdone, e-commerce players have offered even more aggressive discounts and bigger promotions carefully crafted to grab a larger slice of the retail pie.

Lazada is offering up to 90 per cent off on certain products, special deals on bestsellers from brands and free-shipping on app.

“We will be hosting this year’s GSS Sale aiming to counter common issues customers face when shopping through GSS in brick-and-mortar stores — crowds, trying to snag a carpark lot, beating the heat, being bogged down by too many bags and super long lines at stores,” said Lazada Singapore chief marketing officer Andrea Baronchelli.

The softening of rents this year will push retailers to discount more to spur consumer spending, said analysts. Average rents have been declining since the second quarter of last year.

Mr Pushpendra Sharma, founder of, an online platform for the listing and booking of retail spaces, added: “Retailers will also use the GSS opportunity to ensure sale of unsold inventories. Brands, to some extent, are embracing the pop-up route to get rid of unsold inventory.”

Inventories are likely to pile up again if market sentiment remains sluggish and retailers continue to consolidate, downsize and close outlets, he added.

The GSS, however, may only be a temporary respite for the retailers given the multiple challenges, including the strengthening of the Singapore dollar, declining tourist spending and high supply-chain and warehousing costs.

“Both retailers and landlords are trying to battle new age problems with old-school solutions. What is required is a change in mindset with the agility to adapt to the requirements of the gen next consumers and spot new trends that are potentially changing the retail industry dynamics,” said Savills Singapore research head Alan Cheong.

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