Government pumps $1.9 million for HDB heartland shops affected by suburban malls

Government pumps $1.9 million for HDB heartland shops affected by suburban malls

SINGAPORE - As the Government pumps in even more money to help heartland mom-and-pop shops, experts are wondering about the scheme's viability, at a time when shopping malls and supermarkets are multiplying across housing estates.

The Housing Board yesterday announced it is setting aside $1.9 million to help 2,800 shops in 29 HDB sites under the Revitalisation of Shops (ROS) scheme, marking the sixth round of funding since it launched the scheme in 2007.

Two of the 29 sites - located in Bukit Batok and Simei - will get co-funding for physical upgrading of common areas, including facade improvements.

The rest will get co-funding for promotional events organised by merchants' associations.

All the sites' shops can apply to have their rent waived for a month if they renovate.

HDB has spent about $8.4 million since the ROS scheme was set up in November 2007. It has thus far helped 4,600 shops at 52 sites - more than half of all HDB town and neighbourhood centres.

But Dr Lynda Wee, an adjunct associate professor in retailing at Nanyang Technological University, thinks it is time these heartland shops review their businesses and reinvent themselves, especially at a time when there are "suburban malls at your doorstep".

"These shops should take the funding from the Government and do a major sectoral study instead. Gather insights into how the climate has changed and find out exactly what residents want," said Dr Wee.

PropNex chief Mohamed Ismail agreed, saying that these shops should step up their game.

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