Wet weather in Singapore: Some businesses hit hard, others doing fine

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A pedestrian and a cyclist in the rain in Toa Payoh on Dec 17, 2019. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG
Pedestrians in the rain at the junction of Central Boulevard and Marina Way on Dec 17, 2019. ST PHOTO: JOYCE FANG
Pedestrians crossing a road in Sims Avenue during a morning downpour on Dec 17, 2019. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Pedestrians in the rain in Church Street on Dec 17, 2019. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - As heavy rain fell on Singapore these past weeks, some shops have seen sales dip as fewer customers venture outdoors, while other businesses such as laundromats have thrived in the wet weather.

One of those not happy with the rainy days is fruit seller Loo Jie Shen, 25, who said sales at the Toa Payoh stall he works at has declined by 50 per cent.

"We usually have fewer customers at the end of the year as people go overseas. The rain makes it worse as there are fewer people walking past our shop and they don't want to eat fruit in this weather," he said.

Service providers such as Jolly Foot Massage & Reflexology and Ma Kuang TCM Medical & Healthcare Centre have seen a sharp decline in footfall as well.

"Our customers tend to be older and it's difficult for them to go out because of the rain," said Ma Kuang employee Chan Jia Chuen, 23.

Also experiencing a sharp fall in sales is clothing shop owner Huang Li Yong, 49, who owns a store in Toa Payoh.

"Business has been getting worse each year due to the presence of online shops, and the rain makes it even harder to sell clothes."

Singapore has seen heavy rain almost every day in recent weeks, leading to temperatures dipping to as low as 21.4 deg C in the northern part of Singapore on Dec 2.

This was lower than the initial forecast of 22 to 30 deg C by the Meteorological Service Singapore for the first two weeks of the month.

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The cool weather was the result of an intense thunderstorm that hit the island that afternoon.

Last weekend, from Friday to Sunday, rain fell continuously over much of the island before dissipating on Sunday evening.

And it looks like a wet Christmas is in store, as rain is expected to continue over the next two weeks.

Temperatures will likely dip to 23 deg C and showers are expected around Christmas Day.

The wet conditions are making people rethink their plans for outdoor activities.

Parents such as Ms Lim Hui Hsing, 27, are opting to keep their children entertained indoors.

"We had made plans to go swimming and hiking but now we'll probably stay at home, go shopping or visit an indoor playground," said Ms Lim, a quality assurance specialist who has a two-year-old daughter.

Pedestrians and traffic in the rain along Tanjong Pagar Road on Dec 17, 2019. ST PHOTO : GIN TAY

But it is not all gloom and doom - the rain can be good for business too.

Happy Bubbles Laundromat in Tampines has seen the number of its customers more than doubled, with some coming from as far as Sengkang and Loyang.

"They told me that laundromats around their area are too crowded," said owner Mike Ng, 63, who added that its customers were having trouble drying their clothes properly at home.

A customer at another laundromat, Easy Wash in Toa Payoh, said that she usually washes her clothes at home, but has visited the laundromat three times this month.

"The clothes can't dry properly at home due to the rain, especially the bed sheets and winter clothes," said Ms Sandra Ho, 44, who just returned from a holiday in South Korea.

Hotpot restaurants are also doing a roaring trade in the cold weather.

Xiao Cao Xiang Steamboat Buffet has seen a 20 per cent rise in the number of customers at its Toa Payoh branch over the past two weeks.

"More people want to eat hotpot when it's raining because it's nice to eat warm food when it's cold," said staff member Lian De Fu, 24.

Not surprisingly, there has been an uptick in food delivery orders.

A foodpanda spokesman said the weather and factors such as restaurant promotions for the festive season could have caused the spike in the number of orders seen last week.

With the rainy season causing more people to feel under the weather, clinics are reporting seeing a steady stream of people seeking medical help.

Dr Daniel Soong, a general practitioner at Unihealth Clinic, said that there has been a 10 per cent increase in the number of patients.

"There is the flu season towards the end of the year, but with the rainy weather, more people are caught in the rain and also have flu-like symptoms, headaches, and fall-related injuries."

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