Coronavirus: Great Singapore Sale cancelled for first time in 26-year history

The Great Singapore Sale is usually held between June and August. PHOTO: ST FILE

There will be no Great Singapore Sale (GSS) this year.

This will be the first time in the 26-year history of the event - usually held between June and August - that it will not be taking place.

The Singapore Retailers Association (SRA), which organises the GSS, told The Straits Times it will "take a break this year in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic".

"It will return next year to offer local and tourist shoppers the 'Great Singapore Experience', both offline and online," said SRA's executive director Rose Tong.

The annual event - where retailers serve up discounts and promotions - underwent a revamp last year amid criticism that it had lost its relevance. Its duration was cut by half and it was expanded to include festivities such as a pop-up market and film screenings.

The cancellation is hardly surprising as the sale - timed to coincide with the school holidays and peak travel season - will likely fall flat even if shops are allowed to reopen when the circuit breaker ends on June 1. A ban on short-term visitors to Singapore has meant no tourists, and the school holidays were brought forward from next month to this month.

Ms Tong said retailers have been signing up staff for courses during the downtime and seeking other revenue streams.

The SRA has urged firms to also take advantage of government schemes to help retailers go online and extend their reach overseas, in order to diversify and generate new sales avenues. Ms Tong noted that consumers were likely to be more cautious in their spending when stores reopen, and shopper traffic would likely not return to normal for at least six months.

"Of utmost urgency now is for landlords to extend themselves and give tenants the much needed lifeline to mitigate imminent massive store closures and job losses," she said, adding that this would be in the form of a commitment to reduce rent by at least half for the months ahead, or to base rental on a percentage of turnover.

"The silence and non-commitment from landlords on rental rebates and rental reductions beyond May is worrying and spells trouble for the retail industry and the economy."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 05, 2020, with the headline Coronavirus: Great Singapore Sale cancelled for first time in 26-year history. Subscribe