Retailers get in early before GSS kicks off

Smaller stores hoping to get head start on the bigger retailers that can offer larger discounts

Baby supplies store Mothercare is one retailer that launched its sale before the official start of the Great Singapore Sale.
Baby supplies store Mothercare is one retailer that launched its sale before the official start of the Great Singapore Sale. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

The Great Singapore Sale (GSS) officially starts on Friday but a number of retailers have jumped the gun and are holding their mid-year sales earlier.

Smaller retailers said that by doing so, they will not have to compete head-on with bigger retailers, which can afford to offer more attractive discounts during the annual shopping festival.

"We may not be able to match their discounts. So instead of going against them, we decided to (start) before them this year," said Mr Kyle Hu, a manager at Huayi Shang Hang, the parent company of retailer Kitchen+Ware.

The home and kitchenware store, which has outlets at The Star Vista and Waterway Point, started its sale on May 20, offering discounts of up to 60 per cent.

Also organising pre-GSS promotions for the first time were baby supplies store Mothercare and hardware chain Home-Fix.

"There's intense competition within our vertical - a lot of kids retailers are holding their sales quite early," said Mothercare's executive director Pang Fu Wei.

He said that response to its sale, which started on May 18, has been very good. "Sales are up roughly 20 per cent. It's the strongest start to the GSS we've had so far," he said.

Home-Fix said it held its pre-GSS three-day warehouse sale this weekend so that its customers will not have to squeeze with the crowds when the official sale begins.

"It's also to reward our shoppers and tie it in with our 23rd anniversary celebrations," said a spokesman.

Department stores Robinsons, Metro and OG have started their sales as well.

The GSS usually starts in May but, according to retailers, the Singapore Retailers Association (SRA) - which organises the event - wanted it to coincide with a long weekend holiday in China to attract Chinese tourists. The 10-week sale ends on Aug 14.

Robinsons started its sale on May 10 and will tentatively end it on July 17. "We held it earlier than the official dates, in line with shoppers' expectations (for sales to start in May)," said a spokesman, adding that the department store wanted to be able to cater to such shoppers.

She said that the store's marketing calendar for the year had been planned before the SRA announced the GSS dates.

Singapore Polytechnic senior retail lecturer Sarah Lim noted that, in previous years, retailers had been starting their sales earlier and earlier, which could dilute the impact of GSS to an extent.

"It's common for retailers to want to start earlier and catch the first crowds," she said.

"Consumers have the perception that sales are going on all-year round. So it's good that the SRA is being more targeted and trying to attract Chinese tourists," she said, noting that such tourists have spending power.

Account manager Loo Sook Yong, 39, said: "It's good that retailers start their sales earlier so I won't have to rush with other shoppers, especially if I already know what I want to buy."

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 29, 2016, with the headline Retailers get in early before GSS kicks off. Subscribe