Great S'pore Sale gets boost from UnionPay cardholders

Despite weaker consumer confidence, spending by UnionPay cardholders at this year's GSS rose by 15% from the same period last year.
Despite weaker consumer confidence, spending by UnionPay cardholders at this year's GSS rose by 15% from the same period last year.PHOTO: ST FILE

Rise in spending of 15% attributed to more using, and merchants accepting, the cards

Despite weaker consumer confidence, spending by UnionPay cardholders at this year's Great Singapore Sale (GSS) rose by 15 per cent from the same period last year.

The Chinese payment firm said this was due to growth in cardholders as well as more merchants here accepting its cards - which became the official card this year.

The 10-week event from June 3 to Aug 14 was extended by two weeks to cater to tourists from Asia-Pacific countries, including China, whose summer holidays fall in the June to August period.

But the UnionPay data does not include spending by shoppers who used other credit cards or modes of payment, such as cash.

UnionPay said the higher spending - it did not give the amount - was boosted by increased card usage by residents and tourists. Residents both spent and used their cards twice as much compared with the same period last year.

A reason could be that over 80 per cent of merchants here now accept UnionPay cards, up from over 70 per cent last year.

Tourists from China, Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea and Indonesia contributed to the bulk of the 15 per cent growth. In June, visitors from China grew 53.2 per cent year on year to 221,373.

Another possible factor for higher spending was that this year, UnionPay cardholders could get perks at over 100 retailers, including department store Tangs and Korean label Etude House.

Supermarkets and food and beverage businesses saw the greatest boost among retail categories.

The growth in spending "marks the continued appeal of Singapore as a choice shopping destination for locals and visitors", said UnionPay International South-east Asia's general manager Yang Wenhui.

The Singapore Retailers Association (SRA), which organised the GSS, said the increased spending is "encouraging", and it will continue to work with UnionPay and the industry to grow the event's appeal.

Meanwhile, retail sales excluding motor vehicles - data that gauges the overall impact of GSS - fell 3 per cent year on year in June, which showed that the sale got off to a slow start. The Department of Statistics has not released the figures for July and August.

Noting that visitor arrivals tend to pick up in July and August, SRA president R. Dhinakaran said: "We remain optimistic that the official retail sales figures for July and August will show a pick-up and our strategy of extending GSS to mid-August to capture more tourist dollars will prove to be beneficial to the industry."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 06, 2016, with the headline 'Great S'pore Sale gets boost from UnionPay cardholders'. Print Edition | Subscribe