Here’s an article about the retail apocalypse we wrote a year ago. What innocent times! Those closures are nothing compared to the current mass exodus of businesses as Covid-19 continues to wreck the economy.
We thought we were getting desensitised to it all… Until today, when Robinsons announced they’re closing down for good. Now that seems to have triggered the floodgates of angst. Where are we going to buy our bedding now!?
Here are 17 notable retailers, F&B outlets and tourist attractions that have either closed down or are closing down this year.
After 162 years in Singapore, beloved department store Robinsons will close down its last two stores at The Heeren and Raffles City. We don’t know when their last day of operations will be, but we hope they stick around long enough for one final Black Friday.
After nearly a decade in Tiong Bahru, indie bookstore BooksActually finally decided to call it a day on Sept 13, and move all its operations online instead.
It’s not really the end for the business, because BooksActually’s online store has been doing well since Covid-19. But we’ll miss the physical store all the same — there just isn’t a substitute for that bookstore smell.
After 20 years in Singapore, British fashion brand Topshop finally closed its last store, in VivoCity, on Sept 17 this year. Topshop will continue to operate online.
One of the earliest retail victims of Covid-19, Esprit closed down all its stores in Singapore and across Asia sometime in May this year.
Other retailers similarly plagued by the entire world’s sudden disregard for fashion are Zara, H&M, Victoria’s Secret and Gap, which are in the process of closing down thousands of brick-and-mortar shops globally. Shoe store Aldo also filed for bankruptcy in May.
Founded in 1983, Sportslink bid us adieu in July 2020 after being hounded with O$P$ messages by supplier Adidas Singapore. For a walk down memory lane, here are some photos the familiar Sportslink stores of yesteryear. R.I.P.
After 4 years letting kids role-play in adult occupations, KidZania Singapore got hit hard by Covid-19 and decided to close down its 81,000 sq ft Sentosa theme park for good.
Similarly, local kids’ theme park SuperPark closed down its huge indoor playground at Suntec City on 6 October. It suffers the same fate as Cool De Sac, another Suntec City indoor playground that also closed down in June.
8. STA Travel
Travel agency STA Travel wound up in September, which isn’t unexpected given how nobody can travel. But what’s disturbing is that STA Travel reportedly owes customers and ex-staff a cool $1.43 million.
If you bought a package from STA Travel before Covid-19, it’s gonna be tough getting a refund.
If you can recall the days when travel was possible, DFS was that duty-free store where we never failed to procure alcohol just before walking through the gates at Changi Airport. DFS shuttered its physical airport stores (now replaced by Lotte Duty Free) to focus on selling booze online.
10. Prima Tower Revolving Restaurant
F&B has been extremely hard-hit by Covid-19, and there have been scores of closures in Singapore. But one particularly sad one is Prima Tower Revolving Restaurant, which closed for good in August 2020.
Prima Tower, which has been around for 43 years, should be well-known among boomers as it was once one of the few fancy places to dine out, complete with a revolving view of Mount Faber and Sentosa. Never will it rotate again.
You can watch a timelapse of the view from Prima Tower set to Enya here:
Though not nearly as old as Prima Tower Revolving Restaurant, chi-chi French cake shop Antoinette had been in Singapore for 9 years when it called it a day on 30 June. Antoinette closed its two outlets at Millenia Walk and Penhas Road as well as its online store.
After 22 years, Bakerzin officially closed down in Singapore in October 2020. The bakery/restaurant had already been struggling well before Covid-19, but lacklustre mooncake sales this year was the final nail in the coffin.
13. Wisma Atria’s Picnic & Japan Food Town
Wisma Atria seems haunted by F&B closures this year. First, Japan Food Town abruptly closed shop in February. More recently, another multi-restaurant establishment, Picnic, also closed down in October after 4 years in Wisma. Picnic used to house Omakase Burger.
14. The Fabulous Baker Boy
After a decade in Singapore, The Fabulous Baker Boy decided to leave us bereft of its towering cakes named after camp icons. In a post entitled We won’t be here in June. the team wrote that they will “not be reopening, taking any online, take away or delivery orders” and that their “future is uncertain”. Sobs.
15. Kuishin Bo
Japanese buffet place Kuishin Bo, at Suntec City, closed down this year after serving up seafood feasts for 19 years. Kuishin Bo served their last day on April 6 2020. I leave you with the classic creepy Kuishin Bo TV ad: “Dong dong dong, 1 2 3, we are Kuishin Bo”
Covid-19 has been really tough on bars and nightspots, and Starker is probably the first major chain to throw in the towel in June 2020. Once an unpretentious bar to wind down at after work, Starker now winds up its 7 outlets in Singapore.
17. DC Super Heroes Cafe
After 5 years of fan service, the DC Super Heroes Cafe at MBS ended things in June 2020 and decided to not return after the circuit breaker. Honestly, I’m just amazed this place has been around so long.
This article was first published in MoneySmart.