Singapore’s retail recovery remains unclear

While almost half of Singapore businesses are starting to seeing increasing sales, the country’s retail survivability concerns remain.

According to American Express Business Recovery Research for Singapore, more than 50 per cent of businesses surveyed said they cannot stay open more than six months if sales don’t recover to pre-Covid levels by the end of this year. 

“Our local businesses have shown tremendous resilience and agility during this challenging time,” said Ho Yat-Wai, country manager at American Express Singapore. “However, our research shows many aren’t confident of their long-term survival.”

Due to the severe impact of the pandemic on the tourism industry, many retailers have placed their hope on local consumers to survive in the long term. Most surveyed businesses said their viability is likely to be impacted if tourists do not return by mid-year, next year.

When the pandemic hit, more than half of the businesses surveyed shifted their focus to e-commerce (59 per cent) and delivery/pick up services (54 per cent). The early changes helped them not only survive the Covid-19 impact, increase their revenue. 

“One of the main challenges for us as a traditional small business, was to evolve and adapt to stay relevant,” said Anna Fong, GM at bakery Tong Heng. “Adopting a digital strategy and rebranding to cater to the inclusion of younger customers two years ago can attest to this when the pandemic hit.”

American Express predicts some of the changes will remain after the pandemic, including increased social-media focus, digital and/or delivery services, and more payment options. 

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