SINGAPORE - Singaporeans apparently cannot do without hawker centres and their good, affordable food.
Nine in 10 respondents, or 91 per cent, said they were satisfied or very satisfied with hawker centres, a National Environment Agency (NEA) survey on hawker centres has found.
The factors they considered included the affordability of food options (99 per cent were satisfied); the quality of food (98 per cent); and dining environment, such as ventilation and cleanliness (87 per cent).
The respondents also ranked hawker centres (54 per cent) as an important amenity to have in a neighbourhood, just behind public transport (57.4 per cent) and ahead of commercial facilities such as shopping malls (46.1 per cent).
Overall satisfaction with hawker centres has remained consistently high - at 90 per cent or higher - since the first Perception Survey of Hawker Centre Patrons (PSHCP) was conducted in 2014. The NEA survey is done once every two years. The findings of the latest PSHCP, conducted in the second half of last year, were released on Thursday (June 13).
Hawker centres were also the most frequented eating establishment in a given month (35.6 per cent), followed by coffee shops (35.5 per cent) and foodcourts (22.8 per cent).
They were also the top choice of respondents in the two previous survey.
"Hawker centres are the best place for local food. I find that the food there is much better and also cheaper," said Ms Christine Ng, 21, an undergraduate at Singapore Institute of Management.
Food aside, some respondents said they wished to see more activities taking place at hawker centres.
The top three activities they listed were flea markets, musical performances and workshops to learn new skills or crafts.
There are already efforts being made to inject vibrancy and increase footfall at hawker centres. For instance, massage services are available at Jurong West Hawker Centre on weekends.
The PSHCP also found that wet markets are increasingly losing favour, with 39 per cent of respondents saying they had not been to a wet market last year.
In 2016 and 2014, the figures were 33 per cent and 23 per cent respectively.
Said Ms Ng: "I don't really visit wet markets. I understand that some ingredients are fresher there, but I find that what I can get from supermarkets nearby is good enough."
Wet market grocers also find that their business has gone down.
"There are more supermarkets in the neighbourhood now, like Sheng Siong, and online supermarkets like RedMart, which can operate 24 hours and are thus more convenient than wet markets," said Mr Ong Junwen, 37, who sells vegetables at Tiong Bahru Market.
"I think wet markets can consider extending their operating hours to improve business," he added.