Ideas to make it a really great Singapore sale

Readers raised issues such as retailers offering old stock and prices that are still steep after a discount, during the Great Singapore Sale. But holding sales to clear old stock is common worldwide, said Singapore Retailers Association president R.
Readers raised issues such as retailers offering old stock and prices that are still steep after a discount, during the Great Singapore Sale. But holding sales to clear old stock is common worldwide, said Singapore Retailers Association president R. Dhinakaran.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Offers on newer stock, GSS app and e-mail to highlight promotions just some of the suggestions from ST readers

If shoppers could design their own Great Singapore Sale (GSS), they would offer newer stock and deals on more items.

The marquee event would also tie in with the annual F1 race, feature a mascot, and have a "pasar malam" or night market atmosphere.

To cater to tourists, for whom the event was started in 1994, there would also be perks to make the GSS more attractive - such as the option to pay in their own currencies at malls and restaurants, lower charges for excess baggage at the airport, and free transportation from hotels to shopping areas.

Their suggestions came in response to Monday's Straits Times report on the uncertain future of the GSS, following three consecutive years of decline in retail sales during the GSS period.

Mr Nizam Salim, 27, an office manager and ST reader, said that tourists who are here incidentally may not know that there is an annual sale event going on.

"Having lighting similar to those for festivals like Christmas and Hari Raya may show that there is something special happening," he said.

  • How it started

  • The Great Singapore Sale was launched by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) in July 1994 to promote Singapore as a shopping destination to overseas visitors.

    STB said then that although Singapore had become synonymous with shopping in visitors' minds, it lacked a hallmark of the world's elite shopping cities - an annual sale. In all, 400 stores took part in the inaugural month-long event, and retailers reported higher turnovers of between 20 per cent and 100 per cent. That year, monthly visitor arrivals in July and August broke records. Following its success, STB decided to hold the event annually. The Singapore Retailers Association took over as the organiser in 1998. The sale ended its 23rd run last month.

    Melissa Lin

Like other readers, he also said that it is time to integrate online elements such as e-mail to highlight promotions for the day.

Others also said it may be worthwhile having an app or discount credit card specially for the GSS.

Singapore Retailers Association (SRA) president R. Dhinakaran told The Straits Times that his organisation will meet the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) to discuss the direction of the event some time after next month.

He welcomed the suggestions and said they would explore all options, but noted that some ideas have already been tested. "We tried the carnival-like atmosphere during the Pedestrian Night, and the retailers opened late and waited, but the crowds didn't come," he said.

 
 
 
 

Pedestrian Night, organised by the Orchard Road Business Association and supported by the STB, sees a 660m stretch of the road closed on the first Saturday of the month. It has been run several times over the last two years and is currently under review. The STB said it is looking forward to discussing the future of the GSS further with the SRA.

Ms Lena Ong, director of Citrusox, which sells socks and stockings in five malls, said that having e-mail alerts would help. "As a retailer myself, I am not aware of deals happening in other shops, so getting alerts through a text message or e-mail would be good," she said.

Readers also pointed out other issues that are taking the shine off the GSS - such as retailers offering old stock and prices that are still steep after a discount.

Mr Dhinakaran, who is also managing director of Jay Gee Melwani Group, which manages fashion brands such as Levi's, Aldo and Converse, said that holding sales to clear old stock is common around the world, and that businesses do this so that they can provide bigger discounts for their customers.

Mr Kelvyn Chee, managing director of Decks, the brand owner of the Surfers Paradise and Island shops, said: "Giving big discounts on new items means that people may not buy the old items. We can't clear our old stock if that happens."

Assistant professor of marketing Hannah Chang of Singapore Management University said that new products are released with shorter time gaps now, especially in the fashion and personal electronics categories.

She said: "In the light of consumer reaction towards GSS and its stock, retailers can take into account changing consumer expectations in deciding which specific products to include in their promotions during the next GSS."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 22, 2016, with the headline 'Ideas to make it a really great Singapore sale'. Print Edition | Subscribe