Forum: Guard against coffee shop rent hikes leading to customers paying more

I read that six stallholders of a Toa Payoh coffee shop are not renewing their lease after the operator doubled their rent.

It is no wonder the stallholders decided to move out because in old estates like Toa Payoh, there is no lack of food stalls to patronise.

If stallholders were to increase their food prices to make up for the rent increase, customers would just go elsewhere.

I am concerned, though, that if coffee shop operators in Toa Payoh could propose doubling the rent, then the move may prompt other coffee shop operators to do likewise.

The effect of higher rents on food prices will be felt more acutely in newer towns like Bidadari, which may have fewer reasonably priced food centres or coffee shops.

It is possible that the costs would be passed on to stallholders who in turn would pass them on to customers in the form of higher food prices. And in the newer towns, residents would have fewer options.

There also seems to be aggressive bidding for the operation of coffee shops in housing estates (F&B firm offers to buy Jurong West coffee shop for $31m: Report, Jan 21, 2020).

I understand that the Housing Board evaluates tenders for coffee shops based on a variety of factors such as the availability of affordable food options.

What we must not have is a situation in which we pay a high price for food not because of higher ingredient costs, but because of higher rental costs due to calculated bidding to operate coffee shops in housing estates.

Foo Sing Kheng

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