Help heartland shops face long-term challenges

I applaud the initiative to help heartland shops upgrade their facilities and run promotions ("$29m to liven up heartland shops in 17 areas"; Aug 30).

It is heartening that our Government is finally helping this group of retailers.

However, a word of caution must be sounded on whether this is the right kind of aid, in order to really make a difference and not be just a cosmetic change with no understanding of the longer-term challenges.

There are a few factors that created this less-than-rosy outlook for heartland shops:

- The opening of many malls in the suburbs, such as Nex, Jem, Causeway Point and Century Square, which provide a better shopping experience, with their better displays, ambience and range of merchandise.

- The emergence of Internet shopping websites, such as Taobao, Lazada and Amazon, which offer ease of shopping and more competitive pricing.

- The hollowing out of these estates, resulting in lower purchasing volume.

We need to think about how heartland shops can face up to these challenges.

Yeo Thye Lye