SINGAPORE - Travellers arriving in and departing from Changi Airport will get a shopping experience closer to that before the Covid-19 pandemic as more stores reopen.
For example, arriving vaccinated travel lane (VTL) passengers can now shop at the Lotte duty-free store in the Terminal 3 (T3) arrival north area as the store has reopened after an extended closure.
The Terminal 1 (T1) arrival west area's duty-free store will reopen at the end of this month. About 60 per cent of shops in the transit area of T1 and T3 are now open, and works are under way for other tenants to gradually reopen their shops.
Changi Airport Group (CAG) spokesman Dennis Yim told The Straits Times that these moves will help to rekindle the pre-pandemic shopping experience for travellers.
He said sales from travellers - excluding Singapore residents - at the terminal buildings have grown three times since the launch of the first quarantine-free VTL in September last year.
T1 and T3 are currently operational, while T2 and T4 have remained closed owing to the low number of travellers amid the pandemic.
Mr Yim said the number of people entering the public areas of T1 and T3 has increased by more than 50 per cent since the two terminals reopened to the public in September last year.
Nearly nine in 10 of the shops are open now, he added. This is slightly up from about eight in 10 in September.
Sales by businesses in these areas have in turn risen by 40 per cent, thanks to the VTLs' impact, Changi's shopping campaigns and the opening of new businesses there, he added.
Ms Pamela Loo-Song, director of retail and local sales at Focus Network Agencies, which runs chocolate retailer The Cocoa Trees, said sales at the firm's airport outlets have grown in proportion with passenger traffic since November last year, when several VTLs were launched.
Ms Loo-Song said the firm hopes that business will recover this year to at least 50 per cent of pre-pandemic levels. The company is hiring more staff for its shops in preparation for the recovery.
Meanwhile, at Jewel Changi Airport - a joint venture between CAG and CapitaLand Group - locals continue to make up the bulk of the visitors.
Jewel Changi Airport Development chief executive James Fong said the facility has seen a more than 10 per cent increase in local footfall from January to this month from the same period last year.
He said Singapore's plans to reopen further, along with similar plans by other countries in the region, will increase the number of foreign visitors to Jewel.
"The further easing of safe management measures, such as lifting the restrictions to serve alcohol from 10.30pm... are equally important, as these will enhance Singapore's attractiveness as a tourist destination," he added.
Mr Fong said Jewel has been upgrading its offerings as it prepares to welcome more travellers. For example, it will tap augmented reality technology to create a dinosaur-themed play experience in the mall soon.
But confectionery retailer Candy Empire said the VTLs have not improved earnings at its Jewel outlet.
Its general manager, Mr Abdul Mohamed, said only a broad reopening without any restrictions, similar to that of Britain, would significantly improve business.
He added: "We project a gloomy outlook for business at Jewel this year if our borders are not opened up quickly."
A spokesman for Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group, which has an outlet in Jewel and another in the T1 transit area, said the increased passenger traffic has mildly improved sales at the T1 outlet.
At its Jewel outlet, revenue growth was mainly fuelled by the traditional festive spending of the local community.
On whether the VTLs have had any impact on Chow Tai Fook's sales outside of the airport, she said: "The growth of our business outside is mainly driven by local consumption.
"Even with the introduction of VTLs, tourist traffic is still rarely in sight at our downtown outlets."