Singapore’s Shopping Trend

Hello once again! It has been a while since I posted my last article. Hope everyone is at the best of health and doing well in life.  In today’s topic, I will focusing on the shopping trend in Singapore.

More than 20 years ago, I recalled very clearly how Orchard Road, dubbed as a “Shoppers’ Paradise“, was packed to the brim on weekends.  The stretch from Orchard MRT to Dhoby Ghaut MRT had never failed to be empty. I remembered struggling to navigate my through the crowd just to get to my destination of choice.

With every passing year, the crowd at Orchard began to dwindle away. Today, if you were to casually walk into any of the malls, you noticed that there are quite a number of vacant retail space and the crowd isn’t as plenty as 20 years ago. You may be wondering what has happened? Let me share with you my observations :

1) Rise of E-Commerce

Since the advent of Singapore’s E-Commerce Masterplan in 1996, the government aimed to strengthen Singapore’s position as an e-commerce hub. They targeted that 50% of the businesses to use some form of e-commerce by 2003.  Since then, we have come a long way. Over the years, we have seen the likes of Amazon, Lazada, Qoo10, Ebay, etc. entering the Singapore market and these companies have changed the way how we shop. The chart below shows a drastic increase of online shoppers from 2003 to 2011. Based on the chart, the current proportion of online shoppers would be sitting at 65-70%.

Traditionally, we have to travel to places such as Orchard Road to browse the display sets in the shops. The trip would be worthwhile if we found the items that we wanted to buy. Otherwise, the trip down to Orchard Road would be a waste, especially if you staying far away.

Now, at the comfort of your own home, you get access to all of these e-commerce sites, browse for products, select the products, choose shipping choice, make online payment and confirm – all at the click of a mouse.  This spells trouble for the retailers who are struggling with the dwindling human traffic and having a very hard time breaking-even.

In the most recent National Day Rally Speech, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong highlighted on this aspect. As technology advances, there will be disruptions. For example, e-commerce online shopping has disrupted the way consumers usually shop, changing the shopping’s status quo. Prime Minister Lee said that before, people would go into a shop, try out some clothing and buy. Now, he said, people would go into a shop to try out the outfit and then head home to buy online. He also stresses on keeping up with technology and adapting to change in order to survive.

I could foresee that the trend of online shopping will continue to flourish and the death of retail shopping will be imminent unless the retailers keep up with the ever-changing shopping landscape.

2) Shopping Malls In the Heartlands

Another reason that contributed to the dwindling crowds in Orchard Road, is the development of shopping malls in the heartlands. 20 years ago, shopping malls in the heartlands were almost non-existence and people would flock to malls that were nucleated along the stretch of Orchard Road. Since the turn of the millennium, malls are starting to pop out of the heartlands ; one by one. With the shopping malls in the heartlands are within arms’ reach, people would rather shop near to their homes than taking the trouble to travel all the way to Orchard Road just to get the same item that is available within the heartland.

As we are entering into the final quarter of 2016, you could see more new malls being built and that would further draw the crowds away from Orchard Road.

Lesson learnt from this article : The key aspect to survivability is to constantly be adaptable to change.

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