Review for not so Great S'pore Sale
THE future of the Great Singapore Sale, which for 23 years helped cement the city's reputation as a shopping paradise, could be in question.
This comes after three consecutive years of decline in retail sales during the GSS period, despite new attempts to lure tourists and Singaporeans alike with an extended sale, more payment options and contest prizes.
GSS organiser Singapore Retailers Association (SRA) is planning to discuss the viability of the annual event with the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), said its president R. Dhinakaran.
"We need to discuss if there is a point in continuing it, or whether there is a need to reformat it," he added.
His comments come after the latest official sale figures confirm that bids this year to arrest the slide have failed. The GSS this year lasted 10 weeks from June to mid-August.
Singapore Department of Statistics figures released on Thursday showed a 3 per cent fall in July's retail sales excluding motor vehicles, compared with last year.
This follows a similar dip in June's figure, which was 3 per cent lower than last year's - indicating that the sale had got off to a slow start.
Retailers and experts say the current slowing economy - both at home and overseas - played a key factor in this year's poor showing.
But the fact is that the GSS seems to have been losing its appeal for some time now.
"The GSS has lost its meaning," said Jimmy Wong, a senior lecturer at the School of Business in SIM University.
"It needs to be re-branded. There must be a purpose, otherwise, it is just another sale, and consumers are pretty bored by it."
Marketing academic Prem Shamdasani from the National University of Singapore added that competition from the region, such as Malaysia and Hong Kong, and the growth of e-commerce have led to the diminished appeal of the GSS.
The GSS was launched by STB in 1994 to market Singapore as a shopping destination.
It is time to reformat it, said Orchard Road Business Association executive director Steven Goh.
It should be held when Singaporeans are in the country, as opposed to in June, when many are away during the school holidays, he suggested.
He also said retailers should come to a consensus on saving their best deals for the GSS.
"That way, it will be really one-off and impactful," he added, noting a trend of shops holding sales at other times.
Nelson Ng, store manager at clothes shop Stussy in Cathay Cineleisure Orchard, said the 30 per cent to 50 per cent discounts he offered did not budge his sale numbers.
But he said the GSS may benefit shops which cater to an older crowd not familiar with online shopping.
Consumers who grew up with the GSS, like public servant Juneeta, 29, still appreciate it. Though an avid online shopper, she said: "There's a thrill in finding nice discounted items."