Coronavirus: Singapore

F&B, retail firms get help to offset delivery costs, go online

2 booster packages reintroduced; the support schemes will be monitored and adjusted if needed

Only a few customers were seen at the basement foodcourt of Lucky Plaza (above) yesterday at 5pm. Eateries in Orchard Road malls such as Ion Orchard and Takashimaya saw a dip in sales, with some even rolling out takeaway discounts of 20 per cent to 2
Only a few customers were seen at the basement foodcourt of Lucky Plaza (above) yesterday at 5pm. Eateries in Orchard Road malls such as Ion Orchard and Takashimaya saw a dip in sales, with some even rolling out takeaway discounts of 20 per cent to 25 per cent.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

More help is on the way for food and beverage (F&B) and retail businesses, as Singapore tightens its restrictions to curb the spread of Covid-19 within the community.

Enterprise Singapore (ESG) reintroduced two booster packages yesterday to help firms in these sectors defray operational costs and enter the online market during this period of heightened alert.

A Food Delivery Booster Package will subsidise part of their delivery costs, while an E-commerce Booster Package will get local retailers, including heartland shops, to extend their reach online.

Singapore hunkered down yesterday - the first day of the new tightened Covid-19 restrictions - with fewer people out and about at malls, parks, hawker centres and wet markets. Until June 13, people are allowed out only in groups of two, and dining in is prohibited.

Yesterday, the Health Ministry reported 49 new coronavirus cases, including 38 in the community.

Touching on the targeted help for sectors like F&B as well as arts and sports, Finance Minister Lawrence Wong said the Government will continue to monitor and adjust the support schemes if needed.

The next few weeks are going to be very critical, he said, urging the public to remain vigilant. "We will get through this together."

To help F&B establishments, ESG will provide funding for 5 percentage points of the commission cost charged by food delivery platforms Deliveroo, Foodpanda and GrabFood, through the Food Delivery Booster Package. If a platform's commission is 25 per cent of the total delivery transaction value, for instance, the commission cost payable to it will be cut to 20 per cent with ESG funding.

Meanwhile, businesses can save 20 per cent on their delivery costs if they fulfil orders through third-party logistics firms such as Lalamove, Zeek Logistics and Pickupp.

The support is for orders made from yesterday to June 15.

To be eligible, F&B outlets must sell food prepared on the premises for immediate consumption. These include hawker stalls, cafes, caterers and restaurants.

To help bricks-and-mortar retailers establish an online presence, ESG is working with e-commerce platforms such as Shopee and Qoo10 under the E-commerce Booster Package. Local retailers can have up to 80 per cent of qualifying costs waived, capped at $8,000.

The platform providers will work with retailers to curate and list their products for at least six months, participate in promotion campaigns, fulfil orders and perform basic data analytics of sales.

Affected eateries and retailers also receive help from sources other than the Government, with some firms chipping in as well.

Grab Singapore will be extending commission rebates for eligible merchants, on top of support from the ESG. Those operating in hawker centres managed by the National Environment Agency will enjoy a full commission rebate on all orders during this period.

Mall operators, too, will be providing assistance to their retailers.

CapitaLand, which runs malls such as Ion Orchard and Plaza Singapura, said it will offer affected retailers help in the form of rental rebates and operational support to conduct online sales.

Mapletree Commercial Trust, whose properties include VivoCity, reaffirmed its commitment to offer rental and operating support where warranted to retail tenants.

The Straits Times observed thinner crowds at several malls yesterday. Many shoppers did not linger unnecessarily.

The Orchard Road shopping belt was a ghost town. Eateries in malls such as Ion Orchard and Takashimaya saw a dip in sales. Some even rolled out takeaway discounts of 20 per cent to 25 per cent.

A staff member at Tambuah Mas Indonesian Restaurant in Paragon said sales have dropped by 90 per cent. "The staff are worried about... the possibility of a salary cut," she added.

Elsewhere, Parkway Parade was almost empty during lunchtime. Ms Sherry See, 39, who was at the mall, said: "It's quieter. On previous Sundays, you usually couldn't get a table at the foodcourt."

• Additional reporting by Ann Williams, Jean Iau and Wong Shiying

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 17, 2021, with the headline 'F&B, retail firms get help to offset delivery costs, go online'. Subscribe