Shop tills a-ringing in lead-up to Christmas

Customers in Paragon mall doing their last-minute Christmas shopping yesterday. The reported surge in spending seen by retailers coincides with a new survey which showed that consumer confidence in Singapore went up in the third quarter of this year
Customers in Paragon mall doing their last-minute Christmas shopping yesterday. The reported surge in spending seen by retailers coincides with a new survey which showed that consumer confidence in Singapore went up in the third quarter of this year on the back of the improving economy.ST PHOTOS: KUA CHEE SIONG
A woman putting her shopping bag to good use during a sudden shower in Orchard Road yesterday, while Muhammad Hann Harith, two, added to the festive air with his penguin balloon. The shopping belt was crammed with shoppers, who braved the crowds to p
A woman putting her shopping bag to good use during a sudden shower in Orchard Road yesterday, while Muhammad Hann Harith, two, added to the festive air with his penguin balloon. The shopping belt was crammed with shoppers, who braved the crowds to pick up last-minute gifts or to marvel at the decorations.
Customers in Paragon mall doing their last-minute Christmas shopping yesterday. The reported surge in spending seen by retailers coincides with a new survey which showed that consumer confidence in Singapore went up in the third quarter of this year
A woman putting her shopping bag to good use during a sudden shower in Orchard Road yesterday, while Muhammad Hann Harith, two, added to the festive air with his penguin balloon. The shopping belt was crammed with shoppers, who braved the crowds to pick up last-minute gifts or to marvel at the decorations.

Robust sales reported by retailers, fuelled by Singles' Day, Black Friday and 12.12

Crowds thronged Orchard Road over the last two days, as many rushed to do last-minute gift shopping and others came to soak in the festive atmosphere .

The streets, awash in LED and neon lights, were crammed with frazzled shoppers, tourists and families out for a night on the town when The Sunday Times visited on Friday evening.

Some, like customer service officer Agnes Phua, braved the crowds to marvel at the decorations and check out the two Christmas markets making their debut this year.

"I don't come to town often, but I like the feel during this time of year and I wanted to take my niece to the Christmas village to sit on the rides," said Ms Phua, 33.

The European-inspired Christmas village at Ngee Ann City Civic Plaza and the Flashbang street market at the Grange Road open-air carpark will both be hosting Christmas countdown events with live music tonight.

Civil servant Amy Tan, 42, who was shopping for presents for colleagues at Books Kinokuniya at Ngee Ann City, said: "Every year, I say I will shop earlier but... I end up waiting until (the) last minute. But the crowds are not as bad as I thought."

Retailers have reported robust sales in the lead-up to Christmas, particularly over Black Friday last month.

Hypermart Giant said it expects its Christmas sales to be "significantly higher" than last year's on the back of an extended Black Friday weekend sale and new festive promotions.

Some of its daily deals on gifts for children, such as backpacks and in-line skates, were snapped up within hours, it said.

 

Toy sales have also been brisk, with a spokesman for Toys 'R' Us describing this year as "our biggest Christmas ever", a far cry from the company's namesake in the United States which filed for bankruptcy in September. The spokesman explained that the Asian business was a separate entity and financially independent from the other companies operating worldwide.

Department store Takashimaya said toys and women's accessories have been among the top-selling categories for Christmas.

Sales in the lead-up have been on a par with last year's, with a boost coming from the Black Friday weekend.

"Black Friday sales for toys at our store were phenomenal, with many items sold out within hours," said a spokesman.

The reported surge in spending coincides with a new survey that showed consumer confidence in Singapore went up in the third quarter of this year on the back of the improving economy.

Compared with the previous quarter, Singaporeans spent more on holidays and other "self-indulgence expenses" such as new clothes and technology products, according to the Nielsen survey released last week.

But with the growing popularity of "special" day sales such as Singles' Day and Black Friday last month, and 12.12, which takes place on Dec 12, some people may be all shopped out, said Wing Tai Retail executive director Helen Khoo.

The company, which operates 96 stores in Singapore under brands such as Uniqlo, adidas and Topshop, recorded brisk business via online marketplace Zalora during the Singles' Day and Black Friday periods this year.

Sales for this month, however, have been slow, with an up to 20 per cent year-on-year dip in sales for fashion apparel.

Singapore Polytechnic senior retail lecturer Sarah Lim said that as such sales have become popular in recent years, more people have taken advantage of these and done their Christmas shopping early.

"These sales create hype around shopping and the need to buy things, and they are close to the Christmas season, so many would have bought their gifts already," she said.

But all is not lost for retailers.

"Still, shopping is very psychological and, with all the festivities in town with the music and crowds, there will be a lot of impulse buying," Ms Lim added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 24, 2017, with the headline 'Shop tills a-ringing in lead-up to Xmas'. Print Edition | Subscribe