Supermarkets in Singapore stock up and take steps to ease festive CNY rush

The major supermarket chains will have stores open on the first day of Chinese New Year.
The major supermarket chains will have stores open on the first day of Chinese New Year.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

SINGAPORE - Supermarkets are extending their opening hours and adding delivery slots to cope with the expected surge in demand for grocery orders ahead of Chinese New Year.

The major supermarket chains told The Sunday Times they will have stores open on the first day of Chinese New Year, which falls on Feb 12.

At FairPrice, 129 of its 149 stores will stay open that day, up from 114 last year.

This is the largest number of stores FairPrice will keep open on the first day of Chinese New Year.

Of these 129 outlets, 92 will open until 5pm, while 29 will operate 24/7. Another eight will open from 7am until closing time.

Starting last Monday and until Wednesday, 58 of Sheng Siong's 63 stores are open 24/7.

The Dairy Farm Group, which operates Cold Storage and Giant, has extended trading hours of all Cold Storage stores until Wednesday.

A Dairy Farm spokesman said: "In addition to bringing greater convenience to our customers, this will also help regulate traffic flow in stores."

All Giant stores will remain open on Chinese New Year's Eve and the first two days of Chinese New Year.

Engineering manager Kenneth Chia, 50, visited FairPrice Finest at Bukit Panjang Plaza on Thursday, at 10.30pm. Mr Chia, who was buying mandarin oranges with his family, said: "We don't want to rush during the weekend. It will be too packed. You don't have the luxury of time to soak in the atmosphere."

Anticipating high customer demand for mandarin oranges and other festive items, Dairy Farm has increased its stocks of these items.

Meanwhile, festive foods such as Hokkaido scallops, beef for shabu shabu and Ferrero Rocher chocolates have seen a recent increase in sales at Giant supermarkets and on its online store.

To meet this demand, Dairy Farm has increased the number of delivery slots and is working to expand its delivery network.

A FairPrice spokesman said: "We have ramped up our operation capacity to support the expected increase in transaction volume on our online platform."

FairPrice has lined up promotions for popular items, such as carton deals for beverages and baking needs, and Chinese New Year goodies including mandarin oranges, snacks, biscuits and canned abalone.

A Sheng Siong spokesman also said more e-commerce delivery slots have been opened to prepare for the festive period.

National University of Singapore Business School's Associate Professor Goh Puay Guan said the increase in online orders for groceries could be due to Covid-19 safe management measures.

As part of enhanced Covid-19 restrictions, households will have a daily cap of eight visitors.

Since last month, restaurant bookings for reunion dinners on Thursday have been filling up fast.

Prof Goh added: "It is harder for large extended families to congregate in restaurants for the annual reunion dinner, so more people may opt for groceries or restaurant food to be delivered to their homes instead."

And shoppers are also flocking online, with Shopee seeing a five-fold increase in the demand for Chinese New Year-related products purchased between December and last month, compared with a year ago.

Three weeks before Chinese New Year, Lazada-owned RedMart saw orders double compared with the same period last year.

Some canned abalone bundles on Qoo10 were sold out as early as Jan 23.

Said a Qoo10 spokesman: "For the first half of January, we have also received high demand for yusheng and pen cai." Pen cai, or "basin of food", is a dish packed with premium seafood and vegetables.

Florist Ann Bay, 52, bought packet drinks and Van Houten chocolates from the FairPrice online store.

She said: "I don't want to carry bulky groceries home. And I have the FairPrice app which shows me when there are discounts."