SINGAPORE - Shopper traffic at popular malls jumped by as much as 80 per cent during the first weekend of the reopening of Singapore's economy, although many shoppers did not linger unnecessarily.
Malls and retailers told The Straits Times they were encouraged by the turnout on Saturday and Sunday (June 20 and 21) - the first weekend they were allowed to open since Singapore went into a coronavirus circuit breaker on April 7.
Ms Molly Lim, deputy chief operating officer of Frasers Property Retail, which operates 14 malls, said traffic increased by an average of 70 to 80 per cent during the past weekend, compared to the weekend before that.
The malls include Bedok Point, Causeway Point and The Centrepoint.
Mr Lawrence Teo, head of operations at department store BHG, said: "Considering that there were no promotions and activities planned, we are happy with the traffic as well as the sales performance across all stores."
BHG saw a 40 to 130 per cent increase in sales across its five stores as compared to the first weekend in April just before the circuit breaker period commenced.
Shopping mall Nex in Serangoon received almost 50 per cent more shoppers on Saturday and Sunday.
The high traffic was expected so additional staff were deployed at each entry point to manage the crowd, said its spokesman.
She added: "The in-flow was smooth, although waiting time to enter the mall went up to about 30 minutes at peak periods. Staff were available on site to attend to shoppers' queries or offer assistance while shoppers queued."
But while malls saw a constant flow of shoppers, many of those who headed out last weekend went into stores knowing exactly what they wanted to buy.
Most had done their research online, kept shopping times short and did not browse too much, said malls and shop owners.
Mr Kenny Teo, managing director for electronics giant Gain City said: "The customers that came to the showrooms were serious buyers. They had already researched the items they were looking for online and asked only a few questions before buying."
Gain City stores saw a consistent flow of traffic and good sales, with its standalone megastore at Sungei Kadut seeing a sixfold increase in overall sales compared to the usual weekend before the circuit breaker period.
Popular items picked up included washing machines, refrigerators, air-conditioning units and sofas.
Mr Matthew Hoang, country chief executive of Courts Singapore, similarly said that customers who visited the stores came in knowing exactly what they wanted.
Top sellers at Courts included laptops and tablets.
As more people stepped out of their homes, enforcement officers were on the ground to ensure that they followed safe distancing measures.
Enterprise Singapore (ESG) said it has more than 600 safe distancing ambassadors and enforcement officers, who are deployed to conduct daily surveillance checks at 95 shopping malls across Singapore, covering more than 12,700 businesses.
ESG said it will continue to monitor the situation and deploy additional enforcement personnel where needed to ensure compliance with safe distancing and safe management measures.
Retailers said shoppers generally behaved well and followed the measures.
A spokesman for shopping mall Paragon at Orchard Road said entry to the mall was smooth, with minimal queue times, and shoppers were cooperative.
She said: "Short queues were observed at some of the luxury brands' stores and eateries but safe distancing measures were well in place."