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 today and ends on July 28, is now GSS: Experience Singapore, a festival of sorts, with pop-up stalls, film screenings and fashion shows.
Singapore Retailers Association executive director Rose Tong told The Straits Times yesterday: "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 declined, she 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."
PROMISING NEW EXPERIENCE
I think that if GSS had remained the way it was, it would have died eventually. So, we knew that we needed a change.
MS ROSE TONG, executive director of the Singapore Retailers Association.
The event will kick off with the first interactive fashion show, from 3pm to 5.30pm today, 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 in Orchard Road from June 21 to 30, and short films by Temasek Polytechnic students screened at Design Orchard and the Grange Road carpark.
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 at last year's event were flat compared with the previous year. 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 last year compared with the corresponding periods in 2017.
Retail experts told The Straits Times that the revamp was timely.
Associate Professor Ang Swee Hoon of the National University of Singapore Business School said consumers want to be a part of a bigger event, rather than merely buying. "People like shopping festivities. It is not just about buying something, but there is an element of entertainment as well," she said.
Dr Seshan Ramaswami, associate professor of marketing education at the Singapore Management University, said, however, that a clear connection between planned events and retailers is needed.
"There needs to be a digital element in these events to integrate them into the GSS - for example, QR codes displayed at the end of performances that give discounts at the surrounding retail outlets. Otherwise, consumers may patronise the events without making a dent in the retail bottom line of the neighbouring retail outlets," he said.