SINGAPORE: John Ng was hoping to utilize 2020 to get his new business StyleLab off the ground.

Some facilities at Gem Changi Airport have seen a 70 per cent fall in business in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis. (Picture: Raj Nadarajan/TODAY).

Sales in February and March fell by 70 per cent, Mr Ng said, which meant that the business was currently loss-making. During those months, travel constraints were gradually presented, and Singaporeans started to work from home.

Earnings has actually considering that dropped to zero after the “circuit breaker” kicked in on Apr 7 when most retailers were forced to shut their doors.

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” The secret is earnings.

A G-Star RAW shop. (Image: John Ng).

” Besides the expense, how can we justify to our financiers that we continue to pay salaries when there is no earnings?

Even prior to the circuit breaker, the retail market saw its most significant drop in sales in 22 years in March, falling by 13.3 per cent.

File picture of Robinsons at Jem mall.

The circumstance might weaken even more.

READ: Retrenchments and withdrawn task offers: Singapore’s labour market shows indications of COVID-19 pressure

Plunging retail sales could have broader ramifications on the economy.

Travel limitations are still most likely to be in location, implying there will still be an absence of travelers.

A screenshot of Ms Kong’s online store 33’s website handled May 28,2020

” We were really looking forward to opening on June 2,” she said.

However she acknowledged that sales may not pick up much after restrictions are eased.

” We offer discretionary goods. A set of trousers is a pair of trousers, you do not need a brand-new one when the economy is bad.”

Samuel Tan, the course chair of Temasek Polytechnic’s diploma in retail management, stated that anticipating the market to recover within 2020 itself might be too positive as customers will beware with opening up their wallets even after the circuit break ends.

READ: Singapore to leave circuit breaker on Jun 1, visiting of parents, locations of worship allowed with restrictions

READ: Transition to a ‘new normal’ after breaker: How will steps be lifted beyond Stage 1?

A great indicator whether the sector has recuperated would be to study the year-end joyful season, when spending is greater than normal, Mr Tan stated.

Merchants might also discover drawing in investments tough throughout this duration of economic unpredictability, Mr Kent said, which will present longer-term service obstacles amongst company owner.


One idea observers have actually made is to start offering goods online to steer business through the pandemic, and to ride the increasing e-commerce wave at the same time.

“( Merchants) should then benefit from this current downtime, go through short courses on e-commerce, and deal with ideal partners to present their e-commerce organisation,” said Megan Ong, the director of Nanyang Polytechnic’s Singapore Institute of Retail Researches.

Aside from subsidised training courses, the Government just recently released an ‘E-Commerce Booster Package’ under Enterprise Singapore (ESG) to assist retailers go online, diminishing 90 percent of expenses – topped at S$ 9,000 – to set up on e-commerce platforms like Amazon and Shopee.

ESG will also spend for 90 per cent of manpower costs for three months under the initiative.

On Tuesday, the Federal government also announced its S$500 million plan to stimulate businesses to embrace digital tools amidst COVID-19

Part of the slew of financial rewards include a grant of approximately S$10,000 if the firm integrates things like information analytics software applications and e-commerce platforms.

In spite of the concessions, merchants say rotating online is not almost just how much the brand-new setup will cost.

Mr Ng stated that he has to very first work out with the brand names he represents for rights to sell their items online in Singapore.

Among his brands, agn├Ęs b, is also currently offered separately on Zalora, an online marketplace for fashion items.

Getting securities like images and copy material might take weeks, especially if studio shoots are thought about non-essential today, he said.

Ms Kong added that browsing the web is “an entire other set of financial investments”. Even with money from the federal government, labour to run an online channel in the long-lasting does not come cheap.

READ: Q1 labour market figures better than anticipated, but genuine storm is still ahead, economists say

Online customers also play by a different set of guidelines, Ms Kong included, like wanting their items provided nearly immediately.

There will be information processing systems to create, logistical channels to modify, and another classification of inventory to manage, which she is not exactly sure her small company of 15 individuals can handle.

READ: Commentary: Has COVID-19 made e-commerce and online shopping the new typical?

Lucas Tok, a marketing lecturer at Singapore Polytechnic, concurred with the merchants’ sentiments, including that it can be hard to understand what vendors provide to them if they established their own website, or which website suits them best if they went onto a marketplace platform.

A worker works at Amazon’s Prime Now fulfillment centre in Singapore, Jul 27,2017 (Image: Reuters/Edgar Su)

Supply chains and delivery resources have actually run thinner throughout the pandemic too, Ms Wang stated.

It had its own website since 2014, but knowing more individuals were going onto better-known online marketplaces to get their basics, applied for the booster package and hopped onto the platform.

A screenshot of Lazada’s website taken on May 28, 2020

On the consumers’ end, Temasek Polytechnic’s Mr Tan stated that the breaker has developed many online shopping converts who are now “assured by the positive shopping experience”.

” Online purchasing is here to remain,” he said, and the only method for merchants to stay afloat is to deal with their clients’ new routines.

More than just going digital, retailers will have to look at brand-new company designs like a “click-and-collect” strategy or contactless delivery also, as consumers are most likely to be more wary of crowds and public spaces during this time, stated Mr Kent.

One retailer that handled to customize her company model quickly is Fatimah Mohsin.

The owner of a bridal gallery and house design shop said she spent her time in April revamping her online boutique store.

When May arrived, she began to promote her items to her 50,000- odd Instagram followers and performing complimentary virtual home design classes ahead of Hari Raya Puasa.

” After they announced the breaker in April, I felt horrible,” Ms Mohsin said. “I was so afraid my capital will deplete in 3 to four months.”

” So I asked myself, what can I do if this goes on?”

Fatimah Mohsin teaching an interior design class online. (Picture: Fatimah Mohsin/Instagram).

” I think (the existing shopping trend) is the brand-new standard,” Ms Moshin stated. “I can’t simply wait around for things to go back to what it utilized to be.

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