Businesses catch the games' wave

Higher takings reported by tenants in Kallang Wave mall as well as hotels

Food-and-beverage outlets at the Kallang Wave mall were major beneficiaries, tapping the crowds who thronged the SEA Games venues.
Food-and-beverage outlets at the Kallang Wave mall were major beneficiaries, tapping the crowds who thronged the SEA Games venues.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

WHILE athletes recorded personal bests and broke national records throughout the SEA Games, most businesses in the vicinity of the Singapore Sports Hub also topped their sales charts.

With 12 sports featured at venues in the area - including athletics at the National Stadium, netball at the OCBC Arena and softball at the Kallang Field - many spectators also checked out the offerings at the 41,000 sq m Kallang Wave mall, which was officially opened in February.

The sight of crowds thronging the shopping centre was once a rare treat on weekdays but became an everyday affair for the duration of the June 5-16 Games.

That provided a windfall, especially for the food-and-beverage outlets which make up almost half the 65 shops at the mall.

Janice Emprese, 36, outlet manager of Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, said it usually relies "on weekends and after-day events" for business but the Games yielded "a steady stream of people".

In fact, Jolene Chng, manager of Carrousel, said the vintage car- themed cafe timed its opening to coincide with the start of the regional multi-sports event.

Said the 32-year-old: "When we did our market research before this, there were lull periods which were obvious."

But during the Games, it drew "more regular crowds during the day and during tea time," she added. "You can even get morning crowds but we open late and still manage to catch late crowds after the events."

Outside the Kallang area, sales also increased slightly at Raffles City Shopping Centre, which is connected to Swissotel the Stamford that housed 1,000 athletes and officials.

According to 14 shop managers interviewed by The Straits Times, Thai, Filipino and Myanmar athletes and officials formed the bulk of shoppers contributed by the Games.

For American lingerie retailer Victoria's Secret, that helped provide a 30 per cent increase in average customers a week for the month compared to the last, said store supervisor Fran Garcia, 30.

But while the flow of shoppers increased, that did not necessarily translate into higher revenue for most shops at the shopping centre. Said Toby Vigal, 27, supervisor of clothing brand Tommy Hilfiger: "The SEA Games has helped to increase the flow but our sales didn't really increase compared to last month."

It was a similar situation at Marina Bay Sands, said Anthea Zin, 31, assistant manager of restaurant Carnivore Brazilian Churrascaria.

"Sales have gone up in the past few weeks but not so much because of the SEA Games.

"The greater impact on our business was from the convention held here in the first week of June," she said.

"But there have been bigger crowds going through the mall."

Hotels have also gained, said executive director of the Singapore Hotels Association Margaret Heng.

She said: "The SEA Games has been a much welcome event for the industry.

"It brings more visitors to the country and they need somewhere to stay so we have better occupancy rates across the board."

However, The Straits Times understands that not all hotels benefited. Some were forced to deal with last-minute cancellations and were asked to waive resulting penalties.

With the Games having ended on Tuesday, some tenants at the Kallang Wave mall are concerned that sales will slump.

Said Shirlyn Tay, manager of Power Up Express: "People think that the Sports Hub is only a stadium, and not that there's a mall where they can shop and eat.

"With this, hopefully, more people get to know about the mall."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 18, 2015, with the headline 'BUSINESSES CATCH THE GAMES' WAVE'. Subscribe