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Shuli Sudderuddin
Sun, May 25, 2008
The Straits Times
Friends fly in from KL for Great Sale

Within two hours of hitting the stores, Malaysian tourist Dalina Mohd Noor had bought four pairs of shoes, four shirts and a blouse. Grand total: $97.

Ms Dalina, 34, had specially flown in with two friends from Kuala Lumpur for the Great Singapore Sale (GSS). They each paid about $900 for the flight and hotel stay.

Soon after checking into the Royal Plaza on Scotts last Friday - the start of the two-month-long sale - they went on a shopping tour of Marine Parade and Bugis Market, organised by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and Singapore Retailers Association (SRA).

By yesterday evening, Ms Dalina, a planning and development manager, had spent $500.

One of her companions, communications manager Alina Faiz, 41, said with a laugh: 'I wanted to spend only $300 but I don't think it's enough.'

Happily shopping too was Singaporean Yue Xing Mei, 60. Yesterday, the insurance executive bought kitchenware totalling $100 from Tangs and was heading towards the cosmetics counters when approached by The Sunday Times.

She brushed off concerns about the shaky economy and said: 'Things are so much cheaper, I might as well buy whatever I need.'

While it is still early days for the GSS, retailers hope to repeat previous healthy sales.

Figures from MasterCard show that last year, tourists spent US$224.1 million (S$304.5 million) with their MasterCard credit cards alone during the sale period.

The Sunday Times spoke to 50 retailers and 10 hotels.

Irresistible

'I wanted to spend only $300 but I don't think it's enough.' -Communications manager ALINA FAIZ, 41

'Things are so much cheaper, I might as well buy whatever I need.' -Insurance executive YUE XING MEI, 60

Fast pickup in sales

'The GSS comes so soon after news of a possible recession. Yet, surprisingly, our sales have picked up by 5 to 10 per cent in the first two days.' -MR BEN LEE, 25, marketing brand strategist for the New Urban Male

A spokesman for Funan DigitaLife Mall said the mall is targeting tourists as consumer electronics is a key retail sector for them. Branded goods appeal too to bargain-hunting tourists.

The Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore hotel has come up with special GSS packages which include full buffet breakfast, 45-minute massage, and a gift set for women.

The Singapore Marriott Hotel has noticed a trend of local residents checking in for access to malls along Orchard Road.

Ms Lau Chuen Wei, SRA's executive director, is glad that despite economic worries, 'retailers are going all out to woo their customers'.

A Sunday Times check yesterday found happy retailers.

Mr Ben Lee, 25, marketing brand strategist for the New Urban Male range of men's fashion goods, said: 'The GSS comes so soon after news of a possible recession. Yet, surprisingly, our sales have picked up by 5 to 10 per cent in the first two days.'

Tangs departmental store said extending opening hours till 11pm last Friday accounted for 10 per cent more sales.

Bargain hunters also found time for fun and games. Yesterday, eight Singapore and 19 international teams competed in the GSS Challenge 2008.

Organised by the SRA, Singapore Tourism Board, MasterCard, the Association of Shopping Centres Singapore and Singapore Press Holdings, the bargain-hunting competition saw a two-person team from the Philippines bagging the grand prize of $10,000.

Additional reporting by Samantha Eng and Terence Lee

shulis@sph.com.sg

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