Remaking Orchard Road

High costs standing in the way of change

I applaud managing editor Fiona Chan for stating the real problem and challenges Orchard Road faces (Change the shops, not the street, to save Orchard Road; May 1).

The main challenge lies in overcoming the inherent high cost of retailing in Orchard Road and, perhaps, Singapore in general.

Instead of spending on pedestrianising Orchard Road, which will not help and might even hamper it, such funds could be used by mall owners to get the retail mix right.

Retailing is a tough business. With the current high rentals, retailers will not take risks and will stick to the proven same brands and formulas, resulting in a boring shopping experience and some of the world's highest retail prices.

Shoppers can be fickle and retailers with great but untried ideas, and limited resources, will not take risks.

Singapore retailers definitely do not lack creativity. Haji Lane, for instance, has some of the most interesting shops anywhere. But such businesses will not survive in any of the Orchard Road malls, owing to the very high rents and other costs.

Retailing is a tough business. With the current high rentals, retailers will not take risks and will stick to the proven same brands and formulas, resulting in a boring shopping experience and some of the world's highest retail prices.

Retailing is a key component of our economy. It provides jobs, gives good returns to property owners, as well as attracts tourists to visit.

We may never become a shoppers' paradise again, but can we afford to let shopping become irrelevant?

Andrew Koh

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 02, 2017, with the headline 'High costs standing in the way of change'. Print Edition | Subscribe