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'Moderate growth' at Orchard Road shops in Great S'pore Sale

Publication Date : 27-06-2012


Retailers along Orchard Road say they have seen moderate growth one month into this year's Great Singapore Sale (GSS).

The Orchard Road Business Association (Orba), based on a survey of 30 to 40 major retailers in the area, is reporting a 4 to 5 per cent boost in sales from the same period last year.

It is an encouraging number, said its executive director Steven Goh, given the challenges, including greater competition from shopping hot spots across the region. Shoppers are also keeping an eye on the uncertain economy.

But "as long as tourist arrivals remain healthy, it will be good for retailers", he added.

Tourist arrivals were up 7 per cent in the first quarter of this year, compared with the fourth quarter last year.

The Singapore Retailers Association (SRA), organiser of the GSS, had previously expressed hope for sales to grow by 8 to 10 per cent for the two-month sale period which started on May 25.

Last year, takings enjoyed an 11 per cent rise from the year before.

Its executive director Lau Chuen Wei said of Orba's survey figures: "Given that we saw stronger-than-expected growth last year, this is already impressive."

Australian Jan Minahan, 58, was in town with her husband for a short vacation, en route to Indonesia. She had not previously heard of the GSS and had not come here expressly to shop, but added: "After seeing all the sale signs, I will definitely be doing some shopping."

At department store Tangs, a spokesman said sales were meeting targets, despite the store undergoing extensive renovations.

But the tills in the heartland appear not to be ringing merrily. Many small participating retailers said sales had failed to pick up even with sizable discounts.

Owner Jody Zhou, 29, of fashion store Nancy Empire at Tampines Mall said: "It doesn't feel like we're having a sale at all. More people are coming in but very few are buying."

At Junction 8 mall in Bishan, store supervisor Jie Wu Xiu, 26, of gifts and lifestyle chain store Mini Toons, said it "most probably won't be able to meet sales target for this month".

According to the latest Global Consumer Confidence Report, released last month by market research analysts Nielsen, consumer confidence in Singapore in the previous quarter rose two index points from 94, but was overall down 13 index points against the first quarter of last year.

Industry players said while the GSS has been successful over the years, it could do with a few tweaks.

Helen Khoo, executive director of Wing Tai Retail, which includes brands such as Karen Millen, Topshop and Miss Selfridge, felt that more targeted marketing could be done to give shoppers clearer knowledge about specific brands and their sale periods.

Many shoppers, she said, incorrectly assume that retailers participate in the GSS for the entire two months when in fact, they are free to decide the duration of their involvement.

Goh suggested that the SRA consider giving future editions of the GSS a more festive vibe by increasing its visibility with street activities and pop-up stores.

SRA's Lau said future plans would be discussed only "after appraising the current year's performance".


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