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HDB shops, markets, eating places losing popularity among residents but supermarkets buck trend, survey finds

SINGAPORE — It is not totally down to Covid-19 that the businesses of shops, markets and eating places in Housing and Development Board (HDB) estates were not doing as well as before.

Provision shops in Bukit Batok on Feb 11, 2021.

Provision shops in Bukit Batok on Feb 11, 2021.

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  • Residents relied most on supermarkets in their estates; patronage inched up despite online shopping shift
  • 50.7 per cent of residents visited HDB shops or neighbourhood centres at least once a week in 2018, down from 63.5 per cent in 2013
  • Heartland shops continue to play an important role in serving the needs of residents, HDB said

 

SINGAPORE — It is not totally down to Covid-19 that the businesses of shops, markets and eating places in Housing and Development Board (HDB) estates were not doing as well as before.

In 2018, HDB had already observed a drop in patronage at these neighbourhood amenities, with the exception of supermarkets, according to the second tranche of its latest sample household survey results, which was released on Sunday (Feb 14).

HDB shops or neighbourhood centres saw the sharpest drop in patronage, as only half (50.7 per cent) of the residents surveyed in 2018 said they visited such places at least once a week.

In 2013, 63.5 per cent of residents surveyed used them at least once a week.

There are currently more than 100 neighbourhood centres across 24 HDB towns.

Correspondingly, the survey found that close to four in 10 HDB residents shopped online in 2018, with close to half of them reporting that they had shopped less at HDB shops.

HDB pointed out that this group of online shoppers was mostly people living in four-room or bigger flats, younger residents and families with young children.

Patronage across wet or dry markets, hawker centres and food courts also fell by 7 to 8 percentage points, with 63.9 per cent, 56.5 per cent and 38.1 per cent of residents saying that they visited these places at least once a week respectively.

Patronage for eating houses or coffee shops dipped slightly, with 59.9 per cent of the residents surveyed in 2018 saying that they visited them at least once a week versus 61.6 per cent in 2013.

In their estates, residents continued to rely most on supermarkets. In 2013, 80 per cent of residents would go there at least once a week. In 2018, even more residents – 81.4 per cent – said they did.

WHY IT MATTERS

Conducted every five years, the sample household survey, which involved close to 8,000 households between January and September in 2018 this time round, serves to help HDB gain insights into residents’ evolving sentiments on their living experience in the towns it built.

HDB uses these findings to guide its design of flats, neighbourhoods and HDB estates, as well as gauge how the physical living environment has contributed to the building of community ties and residents’ social wellbeing.

In its press release on the survey findings, it pointed out that it is studying how HDB flat designs can support developments in the future of work, including trends that may have been accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic, such as telecommuting.

PURCHASES REPLACED BY ONLINE SHOPPING

HDB listed the items that residents most commonly bought online:

  1. Clothing or footwear

  2. Phone or electronic products

  3. General household goods

  4. Household appliances or furniture

  5. Cosmetics or toiletries

  6. Groceries or market produce

  7. Cooked food

  8. Books, stationery, CDs and toys

  9. Sports equipment or wear

  10. Specialised goods

Infographics: Anam Musta'ein

Notwithstanding the trend towards online shopping, “heartland shops continue to play an important role in serving the needs of residents”, HDB said, pointing out that residents derived the greatest satisfaction from the shopping or retail facilities in their estate.

Some 97.9 per cent said they were pleased with shopping or retail facilities in the neighbourhood, and this was the highest satisfaction level recorded across estate facilities.

The satisfaction levels for educational, market and precinct facilities, such as covered linkways and drop-off porches, were at 97.7, 97.4 and 94.2 per cent respectively.

A relatively smaller group of residents (93.2 per cent) were satisfied with their flats, although the satisfaction level in this area was higher than 2013’s 91.6 per cent.

Households who were dissatisfied had encountered issues such as spalling concrete and ceiling leaks, which occurred in older flats, HDB said. Its Home Improvement Programme and Goodwill Repair Assistance scheme would continue to address these maintenance issues, it added.

With these findings, HDB said it will continue to support neighbourhood shops in boosting their vibrancy and competitiveness, through schemes such as the Revitalisation of Shops scheme which co-funds the upgrading of common areas of HDB towns and neighbourhood centres.

“Merchants in heartland precincts have also been encouraged to digitalise, to keep up with the online shopping trend and adopt e-payment,” it added.

Related topics

HDB eateries neighbourhood facilities supermarket

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