Queues at some malls in town on second weekend of reopening but shops say sales up only slightly

Queues seen at Ion Orchard on June 27, 2020. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - Crowds were seen at some malls in town on the second weekend after Singapore moved into phase two of its post-circuit breaker period.

On Saturday (June 27), there were queues to enter malls such as Ion Orchard and 313  @  somerset; shoppers were seen lining up outside retail stores at Ion Orchard such as Daiso, Sephora, Crate & Barrel as well as Uniqlo, in the first weekend that the Japanese fashion retailer was open after the circuit breaker.

Many shoppers interviewed said it was their first time out of their homes since the circuit breaker as they wanted to avoid the crowd last weekend.

Retiree Sia Lum Peng, 62, who was in Ion Orchard with her younger sister, said they were meeting in person for the first time in a long time. She said they were meeting outside only because she had to visit the dentist while her sister had to replace a pair of shoes.

"Last weekend, we didn't even dare to come out because it was the first day of reopening, so surely it would have been very crowded everywhere. So we delayed until this weekend and will only be out for a few hours," said Madam Sia.

A 27-year-old who gave her name only as Ms Lim was waiting for a friend at coffee chain % Arabica at 313 @ somerset. She said it was the first day she made plans to meet people outside of her family members.

Ms Lim, a marketing specialist, said: "I've been used to being alone for so long so I need time to get my social life back. I don't think I'll be meeting other friends outside of our houses anytime soon because I need some time to adjust to the crowd."

Representatives of some shops told The Straits Times that saw more shoppers compared with a week before.

Mr Benjamin Tan, co-founder of speciality coffee joint Glyph Supply Co at 111 Somerset, said the mall was more crowded and his shop had more customers on Saturday compared with the last weekend.

Business owners like Mr Tan said the phase two reopening has helped their sales slightly, although the capacity of their shops has been drastically reduced to follow safe distancing measures.

He said his sales last weekend was around 20 per cent less than the period before the circuit breaker. He estimated that it will take around six months to recover the losses he sustained during the circuit breaker period.

"But we're considered quite lucky; 20 per cent is not so bad. I had expected it to be worst, so I'm still hopeful," he said.

Mr Ronald Kamiyama, managing partner of The Cicheti Group, said the number of reservations at Caffe Cicheti in Beach Road has fallen due to reduced dine-in capacity.

"Luckily, we held on with the delivery platforms and are able to make up for a bit of the earnings. At the current rate, it will take the rest of the year for business to recover," he said.

F&B outlets in town are recovering slower than those in the heartland, observed Ms Cynthia Chua, founder of Spa Esprit Group.

She said the group's Tiong Bahru Bakery outlets in Raffles City and Funan have seen a 30 per cent to 50 per cent drop in sales, while its outlets in Tiong Bahru and Chip Bee Gardens, which are near residential areas, have seen an increase in sales during lunch time.

Going forward, adjustments would have to be made, she said.

She said: "We'll see a stronger emphasis on hygiene and contactless service. We'll also need to fine-tune our delivery and takeaway offerings as this would make up for the loss in other revenue streams, and be creative in the ways we deliver experiences to our guests."

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