Great savings with strong $$

Great savings with strong $$

Five years ago, Mr Jason Song did not bother shopping at British online stores. The robust health of the sterling had made it too expensive for him to buy from them.

That was then.

These days, he shops on British designer website Mr Porter about once a month. Each time, he spends between a few hundred dollars and $1,000 on clothes, accessories and bags, while the Singapore dollar holds up against the British pound.

Says Mr Song, 31, who runs a creative agency: "$1.89 to £1 is very do-able. It used to be more than double. Saving even 10 cents for every £1 is quite a lot."

The growing purchasing power of the Singapore dollar is also luring shoppers who have always been partial to British brands to buy more.

Health-care executive Yew Woon Yuet, 36, has been able to save more than $100 on clothes bought off London-headquartered Marks & Spencer's online store since last year.

Previously, she would fork out up to $2,000 a year for 30 to 40 pieces of clothing for herself, her husband and their two sons, aged five and nine years old.

With the exchange rate at $1.89 to £1, the same quantity of apparel now costs between $100 and $150 less compared to a year ago - a saving of 5 to 7.5 per cent.

Ms Yew says: "A stronger Singapore dollar is definitely good. The money I save goes to more shopping - for clothes from Marks & Spencer or elsewhere."

Still, it can sometimes be a case of penny wise, pound foolish for those racking up shopping bills while the exchange rate suits them.

Student Wilson Wang, 24, admits that with the weakening pound now, he has a greater tendency to splurge on things from British online stores.

About once every two months, he buys art books, magazines and clothes from online clothing stores Asos.com. He also frequents Mr Porter, as well as online bookseller Book Depository.

Compared to three years ago, Mr Wang can now buy double the number of items with the same amount of money.

On his usual budget of $260, he can now buy at least two art books, instead of one, and four pieces of clothing instead of two.

"I save in terms of the amount I spend on each item. But, on the whole, I spend a little more," he says of his bigger sprees now. "I occasionally end up spending between $20 and $40 more than usual."

Account manager Lin Jingyin, 28, who shops for clothes on British online stores Net-A-Porter, The Outnet and Asos at least once a month, says: "With a high exchange rate, I think twice about buying things that I am not sure about. But with a lower exchange rate, I just buy them."

Some individuals are betting on the exchange rate to swing further in their favour before checking out their virtual shopping carts.

Student Liao Youqing, 24, shops at least once a month at online stores which ring up purchases in Japanese yen, such as Japanese online retailer Rakuten.

She has recently been eyeing a giant stuffed toy that costs 15,750 yen (close to S$200) on a Japanese online store.

Still deciding whether to buy it, she says: "After conversion, I might save about $10 compared to six months ago. Even a small saving feels like a good deal. I am waiting to see if the yen drops a bit more."

Meanwhile, graphic designer Clarence Aw, 24, is trawling British or European online stores for watches, shoes and bags - something he does about four or five times a year, but which makes particular sense now. Each of his purchases usually costs between $100 and $400.

He says: "If I save a couple of dollars, that will be my lunch money."


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