A sprawling new Harvey Norman factory outlet has opened in Chai Chee Road, offering bargains for electronics, IT, bedding and furniture.
The 38,500 sq ft two-storey store officially opens today and stocks items at up to 90 per cent off usual prices.
Browse the well-lit store and one can find the chain's discontinued models, faulty models that have been repaired, display sets and regular items at one-off special prices exclusive to the factory outlet.
A 16GB Apple iPad Air 2 with Wi-Fi and cellular, a discontinued model, is selling for $548, down from the original $748; a Sentrum king-size bed frame, a display set, has a $947 price tag instead of the usual $1,899; the Dyson V8 Fluffy Pro vacuum cleaner, the brand's newest model, is selling for a one-time special price of $749, rather than the usual $1,099; and a Philips rice cooker is going for $69, rather than the usual $129.
The factory outlet at Viva Business Park is the first for Harvey Norman in Singapore. However, the chain has opened similar concepts in Malaysia and Australia.
During a preview of the store yesterday, Ms Eloise Sim, general manager of marketing communications at Harvey Norman, addressing the reasons for opening such a concept here, says: "We saw a gap in the market for great value at low prices every day. This is not addressed in our industry."
She adds that customers are now also slower to part with their money. "The economy is not good, so consumers are getting more price- conscious. We think it is a great idea to bring a factory outlet here," she says, adding that the outlet caters to shoppers who do not want to wait for a sale and are looking for discounts all year round.
The electronics, IT, bedding and furniture retail chain is not the only one eyeing the market for discounted goods.
In May, sporting goods store Decathlon opened a massive 43,055 sq ft mega store in Joo Koon - its third such outlet here. It has two other outlets at City Square Mall and Viva Business Park.
Other factory outlet concepts such as lifestyle retailer Big Box in Jurong, which sells furniture, electronics, clothing and lifestyle items at low prices; and Warehouse Club by NTUC FairPrice, which allows customers to buy groceries in bulk at lower prices for a two-year membership fee of $50, have also opened here in recent years.
Singapore Polytechnic senior retail lecturer Sarah Lim says opening such outlets is good business strategy for brands.
"It helps brands to clear stock in an appropriate way without always having to have sales at their regular stores. Constant sales at other stores could erode the premium image of the brand," she says, adding that locations such as Chai Chee and Joo Koon, which are far from the city area, also mean lower rents.
As for whether such far-flung locations would deter shoppers, she says: "Customers do not mind travelling when they know they are heading to a factory outlet where they can get good discounts and save money."
Shoppers who have visited say the concept works for them.
Paralegal Irene Loh, 43, bought a Panasonic washer from the store yesterday for a tenant who is renting her father's flat. She paid $314 for the display set which would otherwise have cost her $569.
"I don't mind that it is a display set because it has not been used and is still new," she says. "It is always good to have more factory outlets in Singapore.
"I would come here if I need anything for my own home as the discounts are good."