People inside a shopping mall in Singapore on May 15, 2021, ahead of tightening restrictions over concerns of a rise in Covid-19 coronavirus cases.
Roslan Rahman | AFP | Getty Images
SINGAPORE — Singapore’s brick and mortar businesses have been hit hard by Covid-19 and retailers have seen sales plummet significantly as a result of Covid restrictions, according to a retail trade body in the country.
Sales have plunged between 30% to 70% for some retailers since the onset of the pandemic, according to Rose Tong, executive director of the Singapore Retailers Association (SRA), a not-for-profit organization with 420 members spanning sectors like fashion, electronics, beauty and wellness, as well as food retailers and supermarkets.
With each round of tightened restrictions, sales have declined between 50% to 80%, she told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” on Thursday.
Singapore re-imposed tighter Covid-19 restriction again on Thursday, as the number of Covid cases climbed due to several clusters in karaoke bars as well as wet markets. The increased measures — which include the barring of dine-in services and limiting public gatherings to two — will last until Aug. 18.
According to the Ministry of Health, there were 170 new cases of Covid-19, of which 162 were locally transmitted infections. The number of new cases in the community has grown rapidly, and spiked to 883 cases in the past week from 127 cases the week before, according to the ministry’s report.
As a result of the continued restrictions, shopper traffic has dipped significantly — but retailers are still paying the full cost of rent, she said.
“We are hoping that landlords are more proactive and they would take a fair share of the burden,” she said, adding that some business owners are seeking support from their landlords to offer rental rebates.
On Friday, the government announced a support package worth 1.1 billion Singapore dollars ($808 million) to help businesses and workers impacted by the latest restrictions.
They included a jobs support scheme for sectors like restaurants and gyms affected, as well as those in the retail and entertainment sector.
Other measures include support for local retailers to get on-board local online retail platforms.
During the Great Singapore Sale shopping festival from June to July, SRA partnered with e-commerce site Lazada to boost online turnovers. This helped drive up sales and there was a high uptake in home deliveries, said Tong.
While businesses have started adopting digital strategies to improve sales, there are plenty of challenges ahead, she added.
“We do face very intense global market competition from the market places all over the world. Cost is high with deliveries and the cost of goods,” she said.
Online retail accounts for less than 20% of sales for brick-and-mortar businesses, Tong said.
Members of the SRA collectively hire more than 80,000 workers, and have an annual revenue of more than 32 billion Singapore dollars ($23.5 billion), according to the website.
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