Some retailers of masks expect sales dip with easing of Covid-19 rules

Some mask sellers are bracing themselves for a dip in sales when masks are no longer required in most places. ST PHOTO: SAMUEL DEVARAJ

SINGAPORE - At the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, she could sell about 50 boxes of face masks in a day, but her traditional medical shop in Ang Mo Kio could not sell even a single box in the past week.

The shop owner, who wanted to be known only as Madam Lee, is among several mask sellers who are bracing themselves for the possibility that what was once a lucrative business may be nearing its end.

From Monday (Aug 29), indoor mask-wearing will become optional except in healthcare facilities and on public transport, a decision the Government announced last Wednesday as part of the further easing of Covid-19 restrictions.

Madam Lee, 70, told The Straits Times on Sunday that she had thought about what she would do with her leftover stock after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced during the National Day Rally on Aug 21 that Singapore would no longer mandate mask-wearing in most places.

"I had already noticed sales starting to drop after masks were no longer required to be worn outdoors. We have a carton - about 50 boxes - of masks left, which is not so bad when you compare it with the stocks of wholesalers," she said.

"I'll probably just use the remaining masks myself or give them away."

The Ministry of Health earlier said that the further easing of Covid-19 rules comes as the population has become more resilient against the coronavirus, due to high vaccination rates and more people recovering after getting infected.

Ms Huang Ting Li, 36, who works at AngelKids at Compass One in Sengkang, which sells cloth masks for children, expects parents to still buy them but also foresees a dip in sales.

She said her company will be cutting down on its order of masks, given the revised rules.

It was a different story in Clementi as four shopkeepers selling masks said sales have not dropped since PM Lee's announcement, but they are waiting to see how things turn out after Monday.

A staff member at home improvement store SG Home, who wanted to be known only as Ah Heng, 25, said demand for masks has remained steady despite the relaxed rules.

SG Home began selling masks when the pandemic began in 2020, he added.

Mr A. Deng, manager of Jin Tai Mart's Clementi branch, said the convenience store is unlikely to stop selling masks as its sales have not dipped.

He added: "Who knows when the pandemic is going to end for good. Removing the mask requirement makes it more convenient, but masks are now considered a necessity and many people are still worried about getting Covid-19. So we will continue to sell them."

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