Many still flocking to Jewel, but crowd control in place

The start of a snaking queue for American fast-food chain Shake Shack in Jewel Changi Airport on April 17. Last week, The Straits Times observed that a massive queue was split into sections to prevent obstruction of the walkway.
The start of a snaking queue for American fast-food chain Shake Shack in Jewel Changi Airport on April 17. Last week, The Straits Times observed that a massive queue was split into sections to prevent obstruction of the walkway.ST FILE PHOTO
Yi Wei, a pull robot at Jewel Changi Airport, pulling a bin with a 1,000-litre capacity. Tenants can dispose of trash in the bin via an automated opening.
Yi Wei, a pull robot at Jewel Changi Airport, pulling a bin with a 1,000-litre capacity. Tenants can dispose of trash in the bin via an automated opening. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

Simulated trials and CCTV analytics have helped staff manage human traffic flow

More than three weeks after its official opening, Singapore's newest mall, Jewel Changi Airport, is still drawing the crowds, but those heading there any time soon should not find themselves overwhelmed by human traffic.

Closed-circuit television (CCTV) analytics and other technology are being used by Jewel to manage crowds in real time, with staff heading down to busy areas as soon as they are highlighted.

A spokesman said that simulated trials for crowd control, the experience from the six-day preview which saw about 500,000 visitors, and the opening on April 17 have also helped them effectively manage human traffic flow.

Staff have been working with tenants to manage their queue system and explore spaces that can be used for queueing, while more staff are deployed over the weekends to handle larger crowds.

During several visits over the last week, The Straits Times found staff stationed near elevators, link bridges and around the Rain Vortex to assist and manage human traffic.

Shoppers who did not need to use the lifts were redirected by staff to escalators to ensure that those with special needs could use the lifts.

NO SIGNS OF ABATING

As far as I remember, the crowd hasn't gone down since I first visited. The place is just continuously packed with people eager to experience Jewel.

MR JONATHAN WIDJAJA, a full-time national serviceman who has visited the mall five times, on the volume of human traffic at Jewel Changi Airport.

American fast-food chain Shake Shack - one of the highlights of the mall - still had a queue spanning three store fronts.

The massive queue was split into sections to prevent obstruction of the walkway, with Shake Shack staff stationed at each section to attend to customers and hand out menus to those along the queue.

There was also a queue at A&W restaurant in the mall's basement. It is another highlight of the mall.

"As far as I remember, the crowd hasn't gone down since I first visited. The place is just continuously packed with people eager to experience Jewel," said Mr Jonathan Widjaja, 19, a full-time national serviceman who has visited the mall five times.

Meanwhile, the worry that Jewel would affect business at other malls in eastern neighbourhoods does not seem to have panned out.

A spokesman for Changi City Point said that the mall continues to see steady shopper traffic because it serves residents in the eastern precincts, office workers in the vicinity and visitors to the Singapore Expo.

"Sales don't seem to have decreased - we still hit sales targets yesterday," said a sales assistant at a sports retail shop in Changi City Point on May 2.

Similarly, Tampines Mall and Bedok Mall have not felt any impact, with shopper traffic remaining stable, said the malls' general manager Mustafa Abdul Rahim.

Pastor Daniel Gan, 38, said: "I do visit the malls in Tampines often despite Jewel. It takes me just one bus ride to Tampines 1... The malls in Tampines are able to fulfil my needs, such as for groceries, banking and shopping."

Some shops in the malls, however, have felt the effect of Jewel.

A manager at a Japanese restaurant in Tampines 1 who declined to be named, reported a fall of 30 per cent in the number of customers, especially during weekdays.

A sports shoe shop in Tampines Mall has seen a similar drop in customers. "But if customers are looking for a specific shoe model and it is not available elsewhere, they will come to us," said the shop's assistant manager.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 13, 2019, with the headline 'Many still flocking to Jewel, but crowd control in place'. Print Edition | Subscribe