Why It Matters

Woo shoppers all year round

The Christmas season can make or break a retailer on Singapore's famous shopping street, with experts saying the fourth quarter can bring in up to half of a store's annual revenue.

This year-end is likely to be tough for retailers, with fewer tourists arrivals and a strong Singdollar.

To keep tills ringing, Orchard Road shops are dangling discounts of up to 70 per cent, over and above last year's offers.

The Orchard Road Business Association (Orba) is also launching a free mobile app, OneOrchard, which lets shoppers download vouchers and buy items that they can then collect at stores.

It is also banking on its annual light-up - 3.38km long, up from last year's 2.88km - to attract shoppers.

Orba is confident that these measures will draw shoppers to the shopping belt. After all, it is a tradition for Singaporeans and tourists to throng Orchard Road to soak in the festive atmosphere.

Orba predicts that this year's light-up from Nov 14 to Jan 3 will draw around 5.36 million people, the same as last year.

The more important question is not whether they will come, but whether they will spend.

Chances are that year-end quick-fix measures will not result in a large swing either way.

A good outcome for retailers will depend on how much they have been doing to stay relevant throughout the year.

To draw strong numbers year-round, shops must do continual market research to understand their customers' wants.

They must also tie in their storefronts with their e-commerce efforts and leverage a strong online marketing approach.

They also need to invest in training and build up knowledgeable staff who will do everything to ensure satisfaction for walk-in customers.

All these strategies apply to Christmas, as well as to every other day of the year, and will ensure that retailers enjoy the festive cheer well into 2016.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 16, 2015, with the headline 'Woo shoppers all year round'. Print Edition | Subscribe