Not such a merry Xmas for retailers

Not such a merry Xmas for retailers
Last-minute shoppers on Dec 22 still hunting for that perfect gift as Christmas loomed. Even so, feedback from retailers in Orchard as well as suburban malls indicates growth in sales was weaker than levels reported last year.

THE tills rang for retailers over the Christmas season, but not everyone had cause to rejoice.

A survey of 30 brands and three department stores in the Orchard area showed that sales grew by a conservative 5 per cent this month compared with levels achieved in the corresponding period last year.

In contrast, festive shopping last year grew 10 per cent over levels seen the year before. Performance varied across the board as well, said Mr Steven Goh, the executive director of the Orchard Road Business Association (Orba), which conducted the survey.

"Some brands did better than others, but the growth is within our expectations," he noted.

The survey covered popular brands that included Topshop and Adidas, but Mr Goh declined to give a performance breakdown for individual brands.

Those that saw slim pickings included the Jay Gee Melwani Group, whose takings this month for its fashion brands - which include T.M. Lewin, Levi's, Dockers and New Look - across more than 100 outlets were 10 per cent lower than they had been last year.

This was despite discounts of more than 20 per cent at some of its outlets for three days from Christmas Eve.

Group managing director R. Dhinakaran said the introduction of new rivals such as Abercrombie & Fitch and H&M had dampened sales for the company.

It was a similar story at heartland malls, where some retailers said business fell by as much as 30 per cent from last year's levels.

Ms Fanny Chong, the store manager at m)phosis in Junction 8, said that despite a storewide sale with discounts of up to 30 per cent, business for the season shrank by about 30 per cent.

"Customers told me that they're turning more to online shopping," she added.

Those who saw some growth in sales this year said the numbers were nothing to shout about.

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