There will be no Chinese New Year bazaar in Chinatown next year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The decision to do without the bazaar for the first time in its history came as a result of concerns over crowd control, said the organisers.
The Kreta Ayer-Kim Seng Citizens' Consultative Committee also told Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao that the organisers had considered other solutions but faced uncertainties over when phase three of Singapore's reopening will begin.
Shop owners in Chinatown, some of whom have been selling their wares for more than 15 years, were disappointed.
Ms Jane Yee, who owns a decoration shop near Chinatown MRT station, told The Straits Times yesterday that she was "quite upset" when she heard the news.
The 60-year-old has no plans to sell her lanterns on the Internet, considering the stiff competition from wholesalers online.
Said Ms Yee: "We're old already... we don't know how to sell things online."
Others said the cancellation of the Chinese New Year bazaar comes after a difficult year for their businesses.
Another seller of Chinese New Year decorations, a 49-year-old who gave her name only as Ms Huang, said that she had experienced a "significant" loss of customers this year.
This led her to order only half the stock she had brought in during the Chinese New Year period this year.
A shop owner, who wanted to be known only as Madam Neo, said the volume of goods she had ordered in anticipation of Chinese New Year was the lowest in two decades.
"I don't anticipate crowds the size of previous years at all," said the 60-year-old, who runs a qipao shop.
Since 1989, shoppers have thronged the bazaar to buy Chinese New Year goodies, spring couplets and traditional Chinese attire.
The bazaar, which usually runs for three weeks, has been held around Pagoda, Smith, Temple and Trengganu streets.
In January this year, 329 stalls took part in the bazaar, which has seen some 900,000 visitors in good years.
Customer Tan Hoon, 65, will miss the market, which she says is the "main point of Chinatown during Chinese New Year".
"The atmosphere will definitely be different... You really need to soak in the festive spirit at the market to feel like it's Chinese New Year," said Ms Tan, who works at a travel agency.
ST has contacted the Kreta Ayer-Kim Seng Citizens' Consultative Committee for comment.