If shoppers could design their own Great Singapore Sale (GSS), they would offer newer stock and deals on more items.
The marquee event would also tie in with the annual F1 race, feature a mascot, and have a "pasar malam" or night market atmosphere.
To cater to tourists, for whom the event was started in 1994, there would also be perks to make the GSS more attractive - such as the option to pay in their own currencies at malls and restaurants, lower charges for excess baggage at the airport, and free transportation from hotels to shopping areas.
Their suggestions came in response to Monday's Straits Times report on the uncertain future of the GSS, following three consecutive years of decline in retail sales during the GSS period.
Mr Nizam Salim, 27, an office manager and ST reader, said that tourists who are here incidentally may not know that there is an annual sale event going on.
"Having lighting similar to those for festivals like Christmas and Hari Raya may show that there is something special happening," he said.
Like other readers, he also said that it is time to integrate online elements such as e-mail to highlight promotions for the day.
Others also said it may be worthwhile having an app or discount credit card specially for the GSS.
Singapore Retailers Association (SRA) president R. Dhinakaran told The Straits Times that his organisation will meet the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) to discuss the direction of the event some time after next month.
He welcomed the suggestions and said they would explore all options, but noted that some ideas have already been tested. "We tried the carnival-like atmosphere during the Pedestrian Night, and the retailers opened late and waited, but the crowds didn't come," he said.
Pedestrian Night, organised by the Orchard Road Business Association and supported by the STB, sees a 660m stretch of the road closed on the first Saturday of the month. It has been run several times over the last two years and is currently under review. The STB said it is looking forward to discussing the future of the GSS further with the SRA.
Ms Lena Ong, director of Citrusox, which sells socks and stockings in five malls, said that having e-mail alerts would help. "As a retailer myself, I am not aware of deals happening in other shops, so getting alerts through a text message or e-mail would be good," she said.
Readers also pointed out other issues that are taking the shine off the GSS - such as retailers offering old stock and prices that are still steep after a discount.
Mr Dhinakaran, who is also managing director of Jay Gee Melwani Group, which manages fashion brands such as Levi's, Aldo and Converse, said that holding sales to clear old stock is common around the world, and that businesses do this so that they can provide bigger discounts for their customers.
Mr Kelvyn Chee, managing director of Decks, the brand owner of the Surfers Paradise and Island shops, said: "Giving big discounts on new items means that people may not buy the old items. We can't clear our old stock if that happens."
Assistant professor of marketing Hannah Chang of Singapore Management University said that new products are released with shorter time gaps now, especially in the fashion and personal electronics categories.
She said: "In the light of consumer reaction towards GSS and its stock, retailers can take into account changing consumer expectations in deciding which specific products to include in their promotions during the next GSS."
Mobile app, discount card, mascot among suggestions
E-mail alerts can also be sent to GSS subscribers, much like retailers who send promotional alerts by e-mail outside of the GSS period.
IDENTITY AND BRANDING
Readers felt that the GSS has become unidentifiable and confusing, given the proliferation of other sales, when retailers try to clear their old stocks. They suggest having a mascot that would signify the GSS. Another way would be to have a GSS discount card. Instead of different campaigns by various malls, both in the Orchard Road area and neighbourhoods, some suggested more unified themes that could be changed annually.
DECOR AND ATMOSPHERE
There can be lighting or decorations similar to those found during Christmas and other festivals to indicate that there is something special happening. One reader said tourists who arrive during the GSS period incidentally may not realise that an annual sale is going on.
They also suggested having street food and making the event more "carnival-like" by having booths, performances and street food.
One reader suggested a "tourism passport" that would give bigger discounts with more attractions visited. There can also be discount coupons issued through travel agents or airline companies that would include free meals.
Malls could provide transportation for tourists from hotels, as well as shopping guides and have options for tourists to pay in their home currencies. Courier companies could also make it more convenient for tourists to ship big- ticket items home.
This article was first published on September 22, 2016.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.