Great Singapore Sale to be revamped, shortened

The Great Singapore Sale began as a month-long event in 1994 and quickly became Singapore's biggest retail event.
The Great Singapore Sale began as a month-long event in 1994 and quickly became Singapore's biggest retail event.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

The Great Singapore Sale (GSS) will be shortened from 10 weeks to one month when it returns next year, and expand beyond its focus on discounts.

The changes are part of efforts to revamp the event that observers say has lost its lustre in recent years.

Announcing the change yesterday, Singapore Retailers Association (SRA) president R. Dhinakaran said next year's event will focus on the "sensory and social experience", showcasing the Singapore story through a fusion of art, technology and entertainment with retail and food and beverage.

The SRA, which organises GSS, will also be extending more support to its members and the retail community in the coming year, Mr Dhinakaran said at SRA's annual retail awards gala dinner at the Raffles City Convention Centre yesterday. In an e-mail interview with The Straits Times earlier in the day, he said that having an extended duration for the sale had worked well in earlier years to capture a wider base of tourists and locals.

GSS, which is in its 25th year, began as a month-long event in 1994 and quickly became Singapore's biggest retail event, adding on more weeks over the years. But changing consumer behaviour, competition from online players and feedback from retailers and stakeholders prompted SRA to review both its length and content, said Mr Dhinakaran.

It is currently in discussions with other trade associations to help invigorate next year's GSS with new experiences, and make it "a national event that transcends sales and discounts", he said.

This comes after SRA's recent attempt to boost GSS with the launch of the GoSpree mobile app last year, which helped to arrest several years of declining sales but did little to revive excitement about the event.

There are plans to add more features to the app, which offers deals and discounts through e-coupons.

Sales for this year's GSS, which ran from June 8 to Aug 12, appear to have been flat compared with last year. Retail sales, excluding motor vehicles, registered a marginal 0.2 per cent growth in both June and July compared with the corresponding period last year, according to the latest available figures from the Department of Statistics.

Retailers The Straits Times spoke to welcomed the move to shake things up.

Mrs Helen Khoo, executive director of Wing Tai Retail, which operates nearly 100 stores in Singapore under brands such as adidas, Topshop and G2000, said that she would prefer a shorter, more focused event.

"This year, in particular, we are finding that shoppers are generally having sale fatigue, with thinning traffic and purchases.

"Shoppers are looking for newness and variety, not prolonged sale events," said Mrs Khoo.

Overall sales for Wing Tai during this year's GSS were "flat to a low single-digit decline" compared with last year, she said.

Mr Kelvyn Chee, managing director of Decks, which owns brands such as M)phosis, Surfers Paradise and Island Shop, said June is no longer a big month for retail sales as GSS has stopped moving the needle.

"In Singapore, as a retailer, if you don't put a sale sign outside the store, no one will come in. This is something we need to address: What is so great about GSS if every other day there is a sale?"

Ms Esther Ho, director of Nanyang Polytechnic's School of Business Management, said a shorter GSS may draw more participation from retailers, though it may not be enough to address "fundamental issues with the current mode of GSS".

"It needs to be more targeted in its approach (and) do more in data analytics, drawing consumer insights from it," she said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 22, 2018, with the headline 'Great Singapore Sale to be revamped, shortened'. Print Edition | Subscribe