SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) - Retailers operating at over 3,500 stores across CapitaLand malls in Singapore will receive customised support from the company based on their specific needs and trades, to help alleviate any impact from the coronavirus outbreak.
The "wide-ranging" support measures include a $10 million marketing assistance programme and the flexibility to operate shorter hours, the real estate behemoth said in a statement on Thursday (Feb 13).
From Feb 14 until further notice, stores within CapitaLand malls may operate from no later than 11am and close no earlier than 8pm. However, there will be no change to the malls' standard operating hours of 10am to 10pm.
Meanwhile, the $10 million programme will support both retailer-driven promotions and mall-wide marketing initiatives, such as complimentary booking of atrium spaces for retailers and free parking for shoppers during lunch or dinner hours.
A series of marketing initiatives to boost consumer spending has also been lined up, CapitaLand said. These will include cashback promotions as well as giveaways of Star$ points and online vouchers for shoppers who are members of its CapitaStar rewards programme.
"We are reaching out first to our retailers as their businesses have been directly impacted," said Mr Jason Leow, CapitaLand Group's Singapore and international president.
The support measures will take into account the impact of the novel coronavirus situation on the performance of the stores.
"We will continue to monitor the situation and stand ready to offer more support," said CapitaLand Singapore managing director for retail Chris Chong.
"CapitaLand and our retail partners have overcome past economic downturns brought on by the severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) and the global financial crisis," Mr Chong added. "I am confident our retail ecosystem will ride through the current challenge."
Singapore retail sales are expected to be weak this year amid pressures from the coronavirus epidemic, following a 2.8 per cent fall in 2019 which was the steepest decline in six years.
In a separate announcement on Thursday, CapitaLand also said its philanthropic arm, CapitaLand Hope Foundation, has pledged $300,000 to the National Council of Social Service (NCSS) and Community Chest.
The donation will go to The Courage Fund, administered by NCSS and Community Chest, to support patients, healthcare workers and members of the community in Singapore affected by the disease officially called Covid-19.
The Courage Fund was first set up in 2003 to raise funds for Sars victims and healthcare workers.
Shares of CapitaLand were down 0.5 per cent at $3.72 as at 4.38pm on Thursday, after the announcements.
Besides the real estate group, other companies have also come up with initiatives this week to help Singapore businesses facing cash flow and financial constraints due to the outbreak.
United Overseas Bank, for instance, has set aside $3 billion to give firms, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, more flexibility in their cash flow management.