SINGAPORE - This year's Great Singapore Sale (GSS) is shorter by half and will offer more than just shopping discounts.
The annual sale, which kicks off on Friday (June 21) and ends five weeks later on July 28, is now GSS: Experience Singapore, a festival of sorts, with pop-up stalls, film screenings and fashion shows.
Executive director of the Singapore Retailers Association (SRA), Ms Rose Tong, told The Straits Times on Thursday following a press conference for the event: "Retailers and members of the public told us that they felt GSS should be more than just discounts because sales are something you can get all year round in Singapore."
Acknowledging the impression that interest in the annual sale has been declining, Ms Tong said: "I think that if GSS had remained the way it was, it would have died eventually. So we knew that we needed a change."
The shorter sale period would also help to create a greater sense of urgency, she said.
"If it was longer people might put off buying, thinking that they can catch the sale another time."
The event will kick off with the first-ever interactive fashion show, from 3pm to 5.30pm on Friday, at the junction of Orchard and Cairnhill roads.
The Orchard Road Fashion Scramble will use the junction as its runway and involve 300 models and dancers dressed by both local and international designers.
Besides the outdoor fashion show, other highlights include a pop-up market from June 21 to 30, at various locations on Orchard Road, and short films made by Temasek Polytechnic students screened at Design Orchard and the Grange Road carpark next to Scape.
This year, GSS activities will also expand into Kampong Glam, where there will be a showcase of traditional fashion, a handicraft bazaar and a flea market for vintage and pre-loved clothing.
Now in its 25th year, GSS began as a month-long event in 1994 and was quickly established as Singapore's biggest retail event.
But sales for 2018's event were flat compared with the previous year's. Figures from the Department of Statistics showed that retail sales, excluding motor vehicles, registered a marginal 0.2 per cent growth in both June and July 2018 compared with the corresponding period in 2017.
Retail experts told The Straits Times said the revamp is timely.
Associate Professor Ang Swee Hoon, from the National University of Singapore's Business School, said consumers want to be a part of a bigger event.
"People like shopping festivities. It's not just about buying something, but there's an element of entertainment as well," she said.
She also agreed with the move to truncate the sale duration.
"It prompts consumers to shop now instead of procrastinating till they eventually forget," she noted. "It will also have more impact since there'll always be some event around the corner. That will give the season an air of excitement beyond the discounts."
Dr Seshan Ramaswami, associate professor of marketing education at the Singapore Management University, said there should, however, be a clear connection between planned events and retailers.
"There needs to be a digital element in these events to integrate them into the GSS: For example, QR codes displayed at end of performances that give discounts at the surrounding retail outlets. Otherwise, consumers may patronise the events without making a dent on the retail bottom line of the neighbouring retail outlets," he said.