New roadmap issued for Singapore retail

Guidelines aimed at spurring new life into the Singapore retail industry have been launched by the government.

Its Retail Industry Transformation Map (ITM) follows the release of a food services roadmap as the city-state’s economy slows.

According to Spring Singapore, an agency under the Ministry of Trade and Industry responsible for helping Singapore enterprises grow, the launch of the Retail ITM takes into consideration such challenges as fewer business travellers, lower spending per individual, and consumer shifts from brick-and-mortar to eCommerce. Consumers have also turned to foreign eCommerce sites to find a wider variety of goods at lower prices.

“Retailers can look to expand their markets locally and internationally through e-channels,” says Spring Singapore, which encourages retailers to adopt an omni-channel strategy to better reach out and support targeted end-to-end consumer needs across both online and offline channels.

Singapore has about 21,000 retail establishments which contribute nearly 1.4 per cent to GDP and employ about 3 per cent of the total workforce.

Aside from optimising productivity, the ITM also aims to focus on innovation and the adoption of new technologies to drive competitiveness. It will also work on the industry’s flexibility to adapt to evolving trends in jobs and skills.

Strong industry partnerships and internationalisation are considered key elements in pushing the industry’s transformation.

Doubts over sale

Meanwhile, the future of the Great Singapore Sale (GSS) could be in jeopardy after 23 years of helping bolster the city’s reputation as an international shopping destination.

After three years of falling sales during the GSS, the organiser, the Singapore Retailers Association (SRA), and the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) are about to look at the annual event’s direction.

“We need to discuss if there is a point in continuing it, or whether there is a need to reformat it,” says SRA president R. Dhinakaran after official sale figures confirm that efforts this year to arrest the slide have failed (this year the GSS ran for 10 weeks from June to the middle of last month).

Singapore Department of Statistics figures released last week show a 3 per cent fall in July retail sales, excluding motor vehicles. This follows a similar dip in June’s figure.

Orchard Road Business Association (ORBA) executive director Steven Goh believes it is time to reformat the event. He says it should be held when Singaporeans are not away during the school holidays.

He urges retailers to come to a consensus on saving their best deals for the GSS. “That way, it will be really one-off and impactful.”

Singapore is also competing with similar events in the region, such as the 1Malaysia Mega Sale Carnival, usually from June to August. Started in 2000, the nationwide promotion includes contests, prizes and street food.

Launched the same year, the Korea Grand Sale runs from August to October, and January to February each year. It features celebrity performances and opening-day events at the country’s airports.

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