Call for a Greater Singapore Sale to stay ahead of competition

Experts: It must be bigger, better to stay ahead of Asian competition


The Great Singapore Sale (GSS) this year has done well with double-digit growth in spending, but retail experts and shoppers say that the annual sale has to be bigger, broader and even more value-for-money to stay ahead of competition from other cities in the region.

According to figures released by MasterCard yesterday, its cardholders spent over US$1.6 billion (S$2 billion) during this year's event, up 11.2 per cent from a year ago. There were 13.5 million transactions, a 12.5 per cent increase. More than a quarter of the spending during the eight-week sale, which ran from May 30 to July 27, was done online.

Singapore Retailers Association (SRA) president Jannie Chan said this pick-up in spending is "encouraging" for the industry after a relatively muted start to the year.

"We will continue to encourage our retailers to improve their product and service offerings to make it more exciting for consumers," she said in a statement, without elaborating.

Tourists continued to splash out during the sale, with MasterCard holders from China ringing up US$40.8 million, or a 29.9 per cent jump from last year - the biggest increase among the top five countries in terms of spending.

The amount spent propelled China to the third spot on the rankings - from No. 5 last year - overtaking Japan (No. 4) and Indonesia (No. 5). Spending from Indonesian cardholders fell 12.6 per cent this year.

Australia and Malaysia took the top and second positions respectively, the same as last year.

Chinese and Japanese visitors spent the most at speciality retail stores, while Malaysians went for telecommunications equipment. Australians and Indonesians preferred to shop at department stores.

Meanwhile, Singapore-based cardholders chalked up receipts of US$1.2 billion or S$1.5 billion, an increase of 12.8 per cent from a year ago.

MasterCard Singapore general manager Julienne Loh said the growth in spending showed that Singapore remains an attractive shopping destination for visitors and locals alike, despite global competition.

Singapore Polytechnic senior retail lecturer Sarah Lim, however, said the GSS may need to do more, in the light of growing competition from places such as Bangkok, Hong Kong and Malaysia.

Organiser SRA could get more retailers to participate in the sale and generate greater publicity outside of Orchard Road, said Ms Lim. The range of participants could also be expanded to include more food and beverage outlets and service providers such as hair salons.

"Customers are sales-fatigued. They want better discounts," said Ms Lim, adding that 10 or 20 per cent sales are no longer attractive.

"Offer a whole package to shoppers; bundle discounts at restaurants and salons with apparel shops - so when people go to a mall, they know what discounts they can get," she said.

Account manager Loo Sook Yong, 37, who has two sons, said she hopes that discounts for enrichment classes and courses would be included in the GSS in the future.

"The current GSS focuses more on goods than services. It would be good if enrichment centres offer discounts for new enrollees or for those who sign up for a year," she said.

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.