Easier walk for Pedestrian Night shoppers

Models walking down Orchard Road on April 11, 2015.
Models walking down Orchard Road on April 11, 2015.PHOTO: ST FILE

From July, the space set apart for events in Orchard will be cut down

LESS yoga, more shopping.

That is the plan at the upcoming Pedestrian Night in Orchard Road this Saturday, when more space will be given over to pedestrians to wander up and down Singapore's main shopping street and into the malls.

In previous instalments of Pedestrian Night, so-called because a stretch of the road is closed to vehicles, up to 70 per cent of the road was allocated to activities such as a mass yoga session and street tennis. Shoppers found themselves jostling for space to walk around.

From next month, however, the occupied space will be cut down to about 20 per cent, and used for activities such as busking, balloon sculpting and music performances.

 

Organised by the Orchard Road Business Association (ORBA) and the Singapore Tourism Board, the next series of Pedestrian Night will take place from 6pm to 11pm on the first Saturday of the month until December. Pedestrians will be able to walk on the road from around 6.30pm.

Said Mr Steven Goh, executive director of ORBA: "For previous (editions of) Pedestrian Night, we were heavy on events and did not have enough synergy with in-mall activities and merchants. For the next six months, we want more pedestrians to spill into the malls."

The first series, which started last October, had attracted an average of 50,000 people each time, about double the usual footfall on a Saturday night.

While this led to higher sales for street-side eateries and shops near public transport nodes, retailers in shopping malls did not see a big jump in sales. Some of them saw a fall in takings instead.

This Saturday, at least 26 stores, including department stores Tangs and Metro as well as high-street brands such as Topshop and Dorothy Perkins, will offer promotions, such as gift vouchers and discounts, in line with the event.

Most, however, will not extend opening hours. Said Mr Goh: "They are constrained by the operating hours of the mall. Extending hours would also mean higher costs, which have to be weighed."

There are currently no plans either to increase the frequency of Pedestrian Night, which cost hundreds of thousands of dollars each time, he added. "Once a month is acceptable to stakeholders. It takes a lot of manpower and there has to be safety and security measures in place as well."

Shoppers are looking forward to the upcoming instalments.

Said Mr Jason Fu, a 26-year-old graphic designer: "It sounds like it will be a proper street festival now. The last time I was there, the outside area was very crowded. It is not so much about the space allocated to activities, but whether they are engaging. I wouldn't mind going again."

cherylw@sph.com.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 30, 2015, with the headline 'Easier walk for Pedestrian Night shoppers'. Print Edition | Subscribe