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    Dec 29, 2015

    Get ready to walk on Orchard Road again

    THE Orchard Road Pedestrian Night will be back next month and in February next year, to make up for being cancelled in October and November during the haze.

    The event, which shuts a 660m stretch of road on the shopping strip on the first Saturday of the month for five hours from 6pm, will be held next on Saturday.

    The upcoming event will feature a performance-based installation called HAG Space.

    Drummer Brandon Khoo, acappella group MICappella, speed painter Vilas Nayak and dance duo Max & Chloe will perform in the space.

    There will also be stilt walkers and samba percussionists.

    The event is organised by Orchard Road Business Association (Orba) and supported by the Singapore Tourism Board.

    Orba's executive director Steven Goh told The Straits Times that feedback for the initiative had been positive so far.

    He said: "We believe Pedestrian Night has increased the footfall for Orchard Road and enhanced the street-level buzz and vibrancy in the precinct."

    The first six Pedestrian Nights attracted more than 50,000 shoppers on average - twice the average Saturday night footfall.

    During the pilot Pedestrian Nights from September 2014 to March this year, more than 70 per cent out of the 1,000 people surveyed were interested to revisit Orchard Road for the event, he said.

    He added that when embarking on the initiative, the association anticipated that some stakeholders such as retailers may have concerns that it deters some customers from coming to Orchard Road.

    One such stakeholder is Kelvyn Chee, managing director of Decks, the brand owner of Surfers Paradise and Island shops. Four of his shops and counters are in the Orchard Road stretch.

    "There's a party atmosphere, and it's crowded, so people don't want to buy things because they have to carry them along," he said.

    He said that having a more carnival-like setting, with booths and activities for children, may draw more families with young children and maybe increase sales.

    Events on past Pedestrian Nights include mass yoga, band gigs and outdoor film screening. Themes also followed occasions such as National Day and the Singapore Grand Prix. Malls also held promotions and sales.

    Mr Goh said that on its part, Orba has been rallying stakeholders to create special promotions or in-mall activities for Pedestrian Night, and driving awareness of such promotions and activities through advertisements, social media outreach and announcements.

    He said discussions on the future of the initiative are ongoing.

    He added: "We believe that the feedback that we have accumulated so far and the experience gained from organising Pedestrian Night in various formats will help us and the authorities to decide whether the initiative should be continued."

    Steven Teng, owner of a camera and electronics shop on the ground floor of Lucky Plaza, said he had seen a slight increase in sales because of the initiative.

    He said: "There are more people coming into my shop. It's beneficial to the business in a way."

    Muhammad Zulkefly, 27, a sales engineer who went for the Pedestrian Night earlier this month, said he enjoyed being able to walk on a normally busy road.

    He also liked the atmosphere created by the upbeat music and the Christmas lights. He is looking forward to the next one.

    "I hope to see more entertainment such as fire show, or magic show," he said.