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Why are Singaporeans No Longer Excited About the Great Singapore Sale?

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Joanne Poh

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The Great Singapore Sale used to be a big deal, second only to Christmas. People would save up their hard-earned cash all year round just so they could blow it all at Orchard Road. But it looks like the GSS’s glory days are over, and this year, retailers aren’t expecting to see greater sales numbers than last year’s.

While this might be partly due to falling tourist spending, Singaporeans’ spending habits are also putting a dent in what was once one of the most hotely anticipated events on the island. Here are a couple of reasons Singaporeans will not be taking out their wallets this GSS.

 

Falling consumer spending

On the surface, it looks as though Singapore as a nation is certainly not becoming any less acquisitive or materialistic. However, many people are lowering their consumer spending not because they want to, but because they have to. The rising cost of living has made household debt rise alarmingly over the last few years. This basically means that people have less money to spend on frivolities. In addition, people are starting to allocate a larger amount of their incomes to spending on experiences like travel and restaurants, rather than simply acquiring stuff.

 

People prefer to buy online

Why bother hauling yourself to Orchard Road and fighting the crowds when you can not only buy the same item online, but at a lower price too? Gone are the days when the only way you could get your hands on an item was by buying retail. These days, buying retail is actually seldom the cheapest way to acquire something. There’s a reason so many Singaporeans buy vitamin supplements on iHerb, which ships cheaply to Singapore, rather than hitting up GNC, where you’ll pay several times the amount for the same item.

 

Shopping malls are too crowded

Increasingly, lots of Singaporeans are eschewing shopping for one very simple reason: it’s too crowded. Shopping used to be an enjoyable experience for those who got off on coming home with arms full of shopping bags. But these days, it’s becoming a desperate fight through crowds so thick you can practically surf them. Unless you’re a taitai who gets to slip in a visit to Hermes before meeting the girls for high tea on a Tuesday afternoon, expect a visit to any big shopping mall to remind you of those MRT rides to work in the morning.

 

Strong Singapore dollar

Singaporeans travel a lot more than they used to, and it’s not uncommon for a young professional to go on overseas getaways almost every month. Thank the strong Singapore dollar for that. The USD, depressed for a long time, is now on its way up, but the Euro and the Japanese Yen are still exceptionally low relative to the Singapore dollar. What this means is that many Singaporeans prefer to spend their money overseas, rather than at Orchard Road, Great Singapore Sale be damned. Whether they’re snapping up fast fashion at Chatuchak Market in Bangkok, filling their suitcases with facial products in Seoul or raiding US factory outlets, Singaporeans are bypassing the GSS and making a beeline for the moneychangers at Mustafa.

Will you be shopping at the Great Singapore Sale? Tell us why or why not in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.