MasterCard holders ring up $2b at GSS

PHOTO: MasterCard holders ring up $2b at GSS

SINGAPORE - Local shoppers splashed out more at this year's Great Singapore Sale (GSS), making it more lucrative than the last one. But visitors' spending took a tumble, according to MasterCard.

It revealed on Thursday that its cardholders spent nearly US$1.5 billion (S$1.9 billion) during the May 25 to July 28 sale - a rise of 5.7 per cent from last year. There were also 12 million transactions this year, a 12.1 per cent increase. A quarter of the total spending was made online this time.

Singapore-based cardholders, who flocked to retail outlets to snap up discounts despite the haze, fuelled the spending rise by shelling out around $1.03 billion, over 11 per cent higher than last year.

Most of their purchases were at restaurants and fast-food eateries, as well as supermarkets.

Tourist outlay fell 4.8 per cent to less than US$460 million, on the back of a drop in spending by visitors from top markets Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia and Japan.

For instance, cardholders from Australia, who usually lead the way in tourist receipts, spent just $56.6 million - a 16.8 per cent fall.

MasterCard Worldwide Singapore general manager Julienne Loh put the dip down to the strong Singapore dollar, fewer tourists during the haze and increased competition from other markets.

"The Singdollar is very strong now and it puts shops here at a disadvantage. It's also hard to compete because overheads in Singapore are high," she said, pointing to how the large factory outlets overseas have round-the-clock sales.

However, Ms Jannie Chan, president of the Singapore Retailers Association, which organised the GSS, was buoyed by the increase in local spending.

"It is very encouraging," she said. She added that additional discounts to celebrate the sale's 20th anniversary may have helped motivate shoppers.

Administrative assistant Jen Chua, 42, said that while GSS is a good way to brand Singapore as a shopper's paradise, locals can get good bargains throughout the year.

"I don't wait for GSS especially but if I need to get something during the sale and I get a good price for it, then why not?"

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