- The government remains focused on achieving a target of 17 million visitors by 2015. Unless the retail landscape transforms to match retail hot spots like Hong Kong and Tokyo, Singapore will be hard pressed to meet the tourist arrival targets. Luxury brands are expanding their presence here in a big way, working towards a high concentration of luxury brands along Orchard Road. Spurred by the slew of budget airlines coming on the market, tourists will continue to find Singapore an attractive destination.
- Singapore is on track to attract foreign investment, which means expatriates will continue to take up residence here. International schools will see increased enrolments to achieve the target of 150,000 foreign students by 2012.
- The unemployment rate has stabilised at 3.3 per cent in June, unchanged from a quarter ago, despite the economy contracting 6.5 per cent in the first half of this year. Labour officials are confident that layoffs in Singapore can be kept from the highs of the Asian financial crisis and during the Sars crisis in 2003.
- A recent MasterCard survey on shopping habits during the Great Singapore Sale showed a one per cent increase in spending compared to 2008; a total of US$37.5 million was spent by MasterCard cardholders in the first weekend of the Great Singapore Sale. It is encouraging that most of the growth came from Singaporean cardholders - a sign that there is sufficient domestic demand to drive sales.
- Singaporean cardholders spent US$26.3 million in the first weekend, a jump of 7 per cent of receipts compared to last year, while tourists spent US$11.2 million, a dip of 12 per cent. Food and beverage (F&B) remains the top expense item. Retailers have long caught on to F&B as an area of growth. It remains a key segment, with Japanese food halls, quick service food kiosks and eateries proliferating at MRT stations. Informal eateries serving quality cuisine have cropped up in private residential estates. And many new and upcoming malls are tailoring their tenant mix to cater for more F&B outlets. For example, Ion Orchard will house 125 F&B outlets while about 35 per cent of Orchard Central's tenants are F&B outlets.
The writer is director, retail services, CB Richard Ellis
Source: Business Times, 24 Sep 2009