Long queues as shoppers flock to Robinsons outlets on news of closure

Shoppers queueing to enter the Robinsons store at The Heeren on Oct 30, 2020.
Shoppers queueing to enter the Robinsons store at The Heeren on Oct 30, 2020.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

After Robinsons announced yesterday morning that it will close its last two stores here at The Heeren and Raffles City Shopping Centre, shoppers flocked to the outlets, with no certainty on when the shutters will eventually come down.

Some shoppers like housewife Suyan Hong, 48, were "totally stunned" when told the news.

"I knew that they were downsizing after they announced the closure of their (Jem) outlet. But usually when downsizing happens, it is a cost-cutting measure that will help the business' margins improve. I didn't expect them to shut down," she said.

"I will miss the spontaneous experience of being able to find anything from clothes to homeware and children's items in one place at Robinsons. Robinsons is where I would go for last-minute shopping during the holiday season."

Robinsons closed its Jem outlet in Jurong East in the third quarter.

A snaking queue moved briskly outside The Heeren store when The Straits Times visited at 3pm, with about 20 people safely distanced in line. As many as 25 people queued to try on clothes at one fitting room.

At the Raffles City store, a queue of about 15 people could be seen at the cashier. A few customers were also seen with luggage at Raffles City Shopping Centre to stow away their department store purchases.

Many of the shoppers who thronged both outlets were middle-aged, and some had young children in tow. A number of senior citizens were spotted in the crowd as well.

Sales promoters from retailers including Hush Puppies and Samsonite were seen packing up their goods to send back to warehouses after they were told to do so by the brands that hired them.

Some shoppers said they saw the writing on the wall for Robinsons.

Ms Michelle Khoo, 34, who works in the e-commerce industry, said department stores such as Robinsons are past their prime. "During our parents' time, department stores would be the first places they would shop at. But now, there are so many avenues - going online would be my first choice," she said.

Many shoppers like Mrs M. Sidhu, who is in her late 50s, were sad to learn of the closures. Mrs Sidhu said Robinsons reminds her two adult children, who are in their 20s, of their childhood.

"Robinsons used to be at The Centrepoint with Marks & Spencer. During Christmas, the whole area would be lit up and we would go shopping as a family," she said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 31, 2020, with the headline 'Long queues as shoppers flock to the outlets on news of closure'. Print Edition | Subscribe