Once upon a time, life in Singapore was one big sale. Orchard Road was The Place to Be in town, and the Republic was known as a shopper’s paradise.
Things have taken a rather unexpected turn. Seemingly overnight, locals have started complaining about how the shopping scene sucks with its surfeit of H&Ms and Uniqlos. The Orchard Road shopping belt is turning into a ghost town and the Great Singapore Sale has turned into the Great Singapore Fail.
In fact, the sad state of the “Great” Singapore Sale has had organisers in a tizzy. Apparently, rich Chinese tourists can no longer be bothered to come to Singapore to buy the same old crap they can get at even lower prices elsewhere in the region.
Things have gotten so bad that the organisers have even turned to asking Singaporeans what it takes to get them to brave the Orchard Road crowds during the GSS next year. Here’s what might actually help to get people out of their homes and shopping again in the next edition of the GSS.
More F&B and event discounts
While retail outlets have been seeing lacklustre sales for quite some time, Singaporeans and tourists alike are still spending lots of money on food.
In fact, despite the fact that overall visitor spending fell in 2015, spending on F&B actually rose slightly, indicating that visitors are allocating a larger proportion of their holidays to food.
Many Singaporeans would not bother leaving the house for the promise of getting a slight discount on old retail stock, but dangle the same discounts at F&B outlets and watch the crowds gather.
Singaporeans already spend a lot of money eating out every month, due in part to all being self-professed foodies and having an obsession with Instagramming their food, and due in part to not having enough time or good enough skills to cook.
Judging by the success of platforms like Groupon and sports and activities apps like Kfit, extending GSS discounts to classes and events might be well-received, and could boost retail sales by drawing people out of their homes and hotels and into an area chock full of shops. Offers on yoga classes, MMA training sessions or art jam sessions can lure people into the shopping area, and hopefully boost overall spending.
Have retailers offer discounts on new stock
The last time I bothered to try to pick up some deals during the Great Singapore Sale, I quickly realised I’d made a mistake venturing onto Orchard Road, since the only items actually on sale were sad rejects from previous seasons, some seemingly a million years ago… I could have sworn I saw some baggy cargo pants from the Spice Girls era.
Respondents to the GSS survey pointed out that more people would actually want to shop the sale if discounts were offered on new items instead of crappy old stock that the retailers hadn’t been able to offload on anyone for years.
Retailers retorted by saying that would make it harder for them to sell old stock. Well, guys, it’s that or eventually having to shut down because nobody’s spending money at your outlet.
Enable shoppers to buy sale items online
Part of the reason the retail scene in Singapore has gone South is the fact that people simply prefer to buy their stuff online.
It could hence be time for the GSS to go online, too. Instead of forcing customers to go to retailers’ individual websites to check for discounts during the sale period, there could be a centralised GSS site where retailers upload sale items.
Shoppers could be offered a virtual shopping experience that enables them to browse shops by mall, perhaps on a map of the main shopping areas, just for some extra virtual-reality swag.
While nobody can be bothered to head to Orchard Road to shop anymore, most Singaporeans are still happy to log onto a website for a spot of online shopping. After all, office workers need something to do online when their boss isn’t looking, right?
An online shopping experience could also boost tourist spending by offering free delivery to centrally-located hotels.
While GSS organisers are thinking of launching an app to help people navigate the shopping district more easily, the issue is that many people no longer even want to set foot in town on weekends. The answer, it seems, is to let them spend money without having to.
Do you have any suggestions for improving future editions of the Great Singapore Sale? Tell us in the comments!