SINGAPORE - Apple is set to open its third store in Singapore, even as the retail and tourism sectors continue to be buffeted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a statement on Monday (Aug 24), the tech giant confirmed that its third store will open at Marina Bay Sands (MBS) "soon", although it did not specify an opening date.
The new store will be situated in the dome-like structure sitting on the water off MBS that was occupied by mega nightclub Avalon from 2011 to 2016.
"Apple Marina Bay Sands is coming soon to Singapore, celebrating the first Apple store in the world that sits on the water," an Apple spokesman said.
"As with every Apple store around the world, Apple Marina Bay Sands will bring the best of Apple to our customers, at an iconic location in Singapore. We can't wait to see you soon."
The announcement comes after The Straits Times reported last March that Apple would be opening two more stores here at Jewel Changi Airport and MBS.
Apple's Jewel store officially opened last July. The store at Knightsbridge mall in Orchard Road, the first Apple store in South-east Asia, was opened in 2017.
Apple chief executive officer Tim Cook appeared to all but confirm the third store in his visit to the Republic last December, when he said Singapore "could use a third store", as the Orchard Road one was "pretty full".
But few stores in Singapore remain full at the moment, with the retail and tourism sectors both hard hit by the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Retail sales dropped 27.8 per cent in June from a year earlier, while only 2,200 tourists came to Singapore in June compared to nearly 1.6 million for the same period last year.
Dr Seshan Ramaswami, associate professor of marketing education at the Singapore Management University, noted that it is "unusual" to see major store openings during crises like the ongoing pandemic.
"For now, the new store will likely not generate excess demand," he said.
"But good locations in premium malls like MBS that attract a very exclusive clientele are not always available, and large companies with deep pockets like Apple... (could) use the crisis to negotiate a good rental."
However, Dr Ramaswami added that Apple could be well-placed to take advantage of pent-up demand for tourism into Singapore with its new store when the country does open up.
Apple is the most valuable company in the world and became the first American company to be valued at US$2 trillion (S$2.74 trillion) earlier this month.
The company shrugged off the effects of the pandemic to post record sales and an 11 per cent year-on-year increase in third quarter revenue to US$59.7 billion in July.
Singapore Polytechnic marketing and retail lecturer Amos Tan said the store opening could be part of Apple’s strategy to ramp up advertising when most other companies are struggling and lying low.
“It’s exactly in times like these when there’s very little noise around that savvy players like Apple can come in strong, spend more money and increase their overall presence,” said Mr Tan.
“We call this ‘reminder advertising’ because you are reminding consumers of your brand, and Apple has been very aggressive recently.”
Business undergraduate and iPhone user Leonard Chong, 25, said he did not see a reason to go out of his way to visit the store when it opens.
"I may pop in to check (the store) out if I happen to be in the area, but there are many other avenues to get your hands on Apple products in Singapore," he said.
"For example, I could go to an authorised reseller nearer my home or buy a second-hand device online."