Orchard Road is one of Singapore’s most iconic shopping streets. Its 8 million square feet of retail space is equivalent to 103 football fields. However, it has been facing a serious challenge of competition from online retail. In fact, Orchard is suffering from “cannibalism” from online shopping – an unprecedented level of competition between brick-and-mortar stores. Luckily, there are a number of ways for consumers to get the same experience, without having to pay the high rents that many retail spaces have to pay.
Last year, Singapore’s economy grew by 5%, but the Orchard Road shopping district is not thriving anymore. A TNPS team recently toured 21 malls on Orchard Road and found a shocking trend. Many of these malls were empty, some were closed, and others were under renovation. Some were repeat brands and others were crowded. The lack of choice is really frustrating for the consumers, but the high-end brands still have a strong presence in Orchard.
If you are not into crowds, a good alternative to Orchard Road is to shop online. The market is already saturated, so if you are not keen on paying a toll, opt for online shopping. In addition to avoiding the toll, you can also find a wide range of stores offering local and international brands. TNPS found that Metro Holdings has opened a new department store in The Centrepoint in the last quarter of last year.
Taking online shopping over visiting a physical store can save you money, time, and effort. It is easier to buy branded bags, dresses, and even homeware online. This trend is not limited to Singapore – spending online has exceeded $1 billion in Singapore in 2017, an increase of 13 per cent year on year. This means more money for local shoppers. But it doesn’t mean that Orchard Road isn’t alive.
A number of reports have reported that online shopping is taking a toll on Orchard Road, which is one of the city’s busiest shopping streets. In addition to the toll, the area is also being modernized and revamped. The malls are set to reveal a new face, and they are upgrading their infrastructure. Moreover, shoppers should be pouring into malls after work.
The TNPS team visited 21 Orchard Road malls to get a feel of what life is like in Orchard Road. Despite the high toll, there was no shortage of shoppers and many shops are closed on Sundays. It was not only the high prices that drove shoppers away, but the lack of amenities. For example, there was no left luggage service or airport shuttle bus. And even if they did manage to visit the malls, they were not crowded and a few brands were the only ones open.
Despite its popularity, the malls are still struggling to attract shoppers. Despite its growing popularity, the number of vacant storefronts on Orchard Road has reached a five-year high. And the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s Retail Rental Index has fallen for nine consecutive quarters. The average amount of empty retail space in Singapore has dropped by 7.7%. A new department store in The Centrepoint has opened in the last quarter of the year. Besides, the TNPS team visited two other malls on Orchard.
TNPS has visited 21 Orchard Road malls since the end of 2015. Interestingly, there were fewer shoppers in some of the stores and some malls were even closed. This is because some were undergoing renovations and a few others were simply empty. The majority of the malls on Orchard were empty. This is why TNPS team members were able to find a variety of different brands in the mall.
The malls on Orchard Road are already experiencing a facelift. The reconstructed road is expected to see an increase of 40% in retail sales. TNPS also analyzed the number of online shoppers. This trend was evident in the last quarter of last year. It is still a challenge to get the same level of sales in a busy city. If you’re an aspiring designer, you can take the time to shop online.