Coronavirus pandemic

S'pore's phase 2 reopening: Brisk business for some, slow for others

Even though shoppers and diners were out and about in many heartland and downtown areas yesterday, businesses told The Sunday Times it was a mixed bag for different outlets

Piu39 Italian Pizza Bar manager Seri Qaisarah talking to customers yesterday. She said revenue has been down by about 80 per cent but she had to turn away customers as the tables were already filled. The queue to get into Waterway Point in Punggol ye
The queue to get into Waterway Point in Punggol yesterday. Many were leaving their homes to shop for the first time in two months after the circuit breaker period. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE
Piu39 Italian Pizza Bar manager Seri Qaisarah talking to customers yesterday. She said revenue has been down by about 80 per cent but she had to turn away customers as the tables were already filled. The queue to get into Waterway Point in Punggol ye
The turnout at the Ikea outlet in Alexandra was good, even though the restaurants on-site were shut. The store saw its second-best Friday since September last year in terms of the number of visitors. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO
Piu39 Italian Pizza Bar manager Seri Qaisarah talking to customers yesterday. She said revenue has been down by about 80 per cent but she had to turn away customers as the tables were already filled. The queue to get into Waterway Point in Punggol ye
Piu39 Italian Pizza Bar manager Seri Qaisarah talking to customers yesterday. She said revenue has been down by about 80 per cent but she had to turn away customers as the tables were already filled. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR
Piu39 Italian Pizza Bar manager Seri Qaisarah talking to customers yesterday. She said revenue has been down by about 80 per cent but she had to turn away customers as the tables were already filled. The queue to get into Waterway Point in Punggol ye
Lorong Mambong in Holland Village was reopened to traffic yesterday to prevent people from gathering in the street – something that came into effect after large crowds were seen gathering on Friday night. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

LONG QUEUES AT SHOPS

Snaking queues were seen outside several shops such as Japanese discount store Daiso at Plaza Singapura and Waterway Point, as well as clothing store Zara's outlets at Ngee Ann City and 313@Somerset.

The turnout was also good at furniture retailer Ikea's outlets in Tampines and Alexandra, even though the restaurants on-site were shut.

With many people leaving their homes for the first time in two months, the Alexandra store saw its second-best Friday since September last year in terms of the number of visitors, said Ikea's retail director for Singapore and Vietnam Jaap Doornbos.

If crowds get too large, parking will be closed, he added. This happened once on Friday for an hour at the Alexandra outlet.

SALES NOT IDEAL FOR SOME

Sales for other retailers, such as shoe shop owner Alan Chee, fell short of expectations though.

Mr Chee, 53, who runs a store in Ang Mo Kio Central, said that even though a lot of people were strolling around yesterday, only a handful popped into his store.

"Those who needed to buy shoes urgently already came on Friday, which was the first day of phase two. I'm happy to open my shop again after closing it for more than two months, but business has not been ideal," he said.

Similar sentiments were shared by Mr Nick Leong, a retail assistant at a home decor shop at Waterway Point.

The 37-year-old said that business dropped by 70 per cent in recent months and has not picked up despite the phase two reopening.

A LOT OF DISPARITY

The mall is crowded now but many patrons are heading for the restaurants and clothing stores. Some stores will see a lot of traffic while business remains slow at others. There is a lot of disparity.

MR NICK LEONG, a retail assistant at a home decor shop at Waterway Point, who says business has dropped by 70 per cent in recent months and has not picked up despite the phase two reopening.

DECREASE IN TAKINGS

I'm operating only eight tables. I'm definitely losing everything.

MR AMIT KUMAR, outlet manager for popular restaurant and bar Wala Wala, who says the eatery will be able to earn only about 10 per cent of its usual takings

because its popular outdoor seating area has now been removed.

"The mall is crowded now but many patrons are heading for the restaurants and clothing stores. Some stores will see a lot of traffic while business remains slow at others. There is a lot of disparity," he said.

QUIET HOLLAND VILLAGE

The double whammy of the wet weather as well as the sudden closing of the outdoor refreshment areas along the sidewalks of part of Holland Village made the area very quiet last night.

Already crippled by safe distancing measures, which have halved seating capacities, bar and restaurant owners said business is expected to be dismal as some outdoor dining areas have also been forced to shut.

This happened because Lorong Mambong, the main stretch there, was reopened to traffic yesterday to prevent people from gathering in the street - something that came into effect after large crowds were seen gathering on Friday night.

Mr Amit Kumar, outlet manager for popular restaurant and bar Wala Wala, said the eatery will be able to earn only about 10 per cent of its usual takings because its popular outdoor seating area has now been removed.

"I'm operating only eight tables. I'm definitely losing everything," lamented the 28-year-old.

Ms Seri Qaisarah, manager of Piu39 Italian Pizza Bar, said the restaurant's revenue has been down by about 80 per cent.

"We feel bad because our regulars want to dine in but we cannot do anything," said the 35-year-old, who had to turn away customers as tables were already filled.

HAWKER FOOD AND BUBBLE TEA

Hawkers at East Coast Lagoon Food Village said business had surged on Friday, with the crowds reaching numbers close to those before the circuit breaker period.

 
 
 
 

In fact, sales on Friday for hawker stall Fang Yuan BBQ, which opened in April, was the best yet, said the stall owners, who declined to be named.

Now that customers are allowed to dine in, the owners added that they expect business to continue to pick up.

Singaporeans could not get enough of bubble tea either and joined long queues to get their favourite sweet drinks.

The Chicha San Chen outlet at 313@Somerset had so many customers that the queue went around the corner.

Before phase two, bubble tea shops and other outlets that predominantly sold drinks were not allowed to operate.

• Additional reporting by Anjali Raguraman, Kok Yufeng, Malavika Menon and Dominic Low

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 21, 2020, with the headline 'Brisk business for some, slow for others'. Subscribe