Work is progressing on a fair tenancy framework that will establish industry norms on tenancy practices and terms, with an update expected in the coming months, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said yesterday.
The Singapore Business Federation (SBF) has taken the lead and formed sub-committees comprising both landlords and tenants, he said in a virtual briefing.
"We'll be able to see some progress in the coming quarter, and I hope to receive their preliminary report soon."
Simmering tensions between landlords and tenants bubbled over in recent months, as retailers, restaurants and lifestyle establishments fought for rental relief amid pandemic-related restrictions.
A committee comprising representatives of various business associations is seeking legislation to address what it claims is a growing power imbalance tilted in favour of landlords. Its proposals include rental data transparency and a dispute resolution channel.
The SBF said in June that a separate committee comprising key stakeholders had been convened to strengthen collaboration and develop a framework that is fair to both sides.
Noting that rental contributes to the high fixed costs that bricks-and-mortar retailers face, Mr Chan said businesses can mitigate this by changing their business model and growing their top line.
One way to do this is to expand overseas through online channels, he said, adding that retailers can break new ground by going beyond the domestic market.
They will also need to adjust to new consumer behaviours and create unique selling propositions, while adding value in areas such as service and design. If this can be accomplished, "our retail sector will have brighter prospects going forward", Mr Chan said.
How the industry stacks up
The retail sector is slowly recovering from the devastating impact of Singapore's circuit breaker, which saw sales drop by an unprecedented 52.1 per cent year on year in May, when shops were forced to close. While the pandemic has accelerated the growth of online shopping, overall retail sales remain sluggish, inching up less than 2 per cent in August over the month before.
26,600 Approximate number of retail outlets in Singapore.
1.6% Contribution to Singapore's gross domestic product.
4.1% Percentage of the total workforce that the sector employs.
1 in 3 Approximate proportion of employees aged 55 or older.
10.9% Online turnover as a proportion of total retail sales in August.