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GSS a victim of Republic's success

I am not surprised that the Great Singapore Sale (GSS) has deteriorated over the years ("Making Great S'pore Sale great again"; last Sunday).

Several factors contributed to this, many of which are beyond the control of retailers.

The truth is, Singapore has fallen victim to its own success.

The Singapore dollar has appreciated significantly against the currencies of other countries over the last 23 years, making our goods more expensive.

It also makes other countries, such as Japan and South Korea, more attractive shopping destinations than Singapore.

Over the same period, rental, wages and the goods and services tax have increased, all of which greatly raise the cost of doing business here.

Singapore thrived as a shopper's paradise in the 1980s partly because of our tax-free environment for most imported goods. Tourists from countries with high import tax flocked to Singapore to buy tax-free goods.

But this edge has been eroded, as trade barriers and import taxes began to decline in many countries over the past two decades.

Finally, the emergence of e-commerce has dealt a further blow to retailers. Consumers can shop from the comfort of their homes and buy almost anything under the sun at prices that are significantly lower than in shops.

The Internet shortened the supply chain from manufacturers to consumers, doing away with the middlemen, such as traditional retailers.

Thus, we have to rethink the relevance of the GSS and look at new ways to attract tourists so that goods retailers can benefit.

Yeo Chee Kean

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 09, 2016, with the headline 'GSS a victim of Republic's success'. Print Edition | Subscribe