National Day promotions pull in crowds of shoppers

Some businesses see improved sales with rise in footfall expected to last over long weekend

The Orchard shopping belt was packed yesterday. One shopper said it looked like Singaporeans "do not agree" that the country is in a recession going by the number of people out and about in Orchard Road.
Some people said they waited for more than 20 minutes before being let into department store Tangs, which allowed in shoppers in batches as it had limited allowable capacity. ST PHOTOS: CHONG JUN LIANG
Some people said they waited for more than 20 minutes before being let into department store Tangs, which allowed in shoppers in batches as it had limited allowable capacity.
The Orchard shopping belt was packed yesterday. One shopper said it looked like Singaporeans "do not agree" that the country is in a recession going by the number of people out and about in Orchard Road. ST PHOTOS: CHONG JUN LIANG

Tills are ringing again after retailers pulled out all the stops to draw shoppers with promotions ahead of National Day.

Some retailers noted that business had improved in the past few weeks with an increase in footfall, and this is expected to continue over the long weekend.

The Orchard shopping belt was packed yesterday, with long queues outside popular stores like Tangs, which was among those offering promotions. Some people said they waited for more than 20 minutes before being let into the department store, which allowed in shoppers in batches as it had limited allowable capacity.

Housewife Jennifer Ang, 63, said the deals were too good to let slip, even though she was wary of being in big crowds.

"Normally I would not choose to come out on a Saturday, especially since the Government said the elderly should try to stay in as much as possible," said Madam Ang, who bought cooking appliances from Tangs. "But I decided to take advantage of the deals, since I was already running errands in the area."

Another shopper, Mr Guo Xun, 27, picked up a printer from Courts.

"I'm an employee in a company, and not self-employed, so I'm not that afraid of spending money yet," said Mr Guo, an engineer.

Another shopper, who gave her name only as Ms Yim, 28, said it looked like Singaporeans "do not agree" that the country is in a recession, going by the number of people out and about in Orchard Road.

"It's just an ordinary weekend for us," said the wealth manager.

Singapore Retailers Association (SRA) executive director Rose Tong said there was "definitely an air of festivity" in recent weeks, adding that an online shopping festival yesterday would "definitely help drive online consumption".

"The (National Day Parade) celebrations and promotions in-store, as well as on (SRA app) GoSpree, are testament (to the air of festivities), and have provided some form of 'normalcy' to retail," said Ms Tong, adding that she hopes the spending fervour will continue into the virtual Great Singapore Sale, which starts on Sept 9.

She noted that sales had picked up from mid-July as shoppers got used to safe distancing measures and SafeEntry requirements.

But retailers remain wary about prospects in the longer term.

Scanteak chief executive Jamie Lim said she recognised that the increase in sales could be due to "pent-up demand", as people found it hard to shop during the circuit-breaker period.

The furniture retailer's sales have been encouraging in the past few weeks, including the long weekend earlier this month, she said.

Ms Tong also warned that retail sales were not expected to return to their pre-Covid-19 level, at least until the first or second quarter of next year.

"We envisage many retailers will further struggle with cash flow and may find it harder to retain their workers. With potential retrenchment, pay cuts amid a weak economic outlook, we expect discretionary retail to be hurt by as much as 60 per cent," she said.

"We are certainly not out of the woods yet in the fight against Covid-19."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 09, 2020, with the headline National Day promotions pull in crowds of shoppers. Subscribe