Friday, September 30, 2011

Shop till you drop in Singapore


SINGAPORE has always been and continues to be a shopper’s paradise. Although other major cities in the world have also built shopping malls the city-state remains an attractive choice for branded goods. The following are the experiences of people who frequent Singapore for shopping. (Burhan Abe, The Jakarta Post, September 30, 2011)

Farah Quinn, Celebrity Chef

While I seldom go to Singapore for shopping alone, during my frequent visits I am always tempted to do some shopping, because the moment I step out of my hotel there are lines of malls and shops. So the vibe is instantly shopping and nothing else.

Although shopping is not always on the top of my to-do list, when I return to Indonesia I find that I am carrying lots of things, including fashion items, apparel as well as the cooking utensils that I need for my profession.

I also often purchase food items, because although Singapore is lacking in natural resources and most of its food items are imported, shopping for such things in Singapore is enjoyable due to the available variety – more complete than here in Indonesia - and the guaranteed quality.

Payment is quite convenient with cash or credit card. What is unique is that we can get a refund for sales tax at the airport.

Anastasia F. Sadikun, Businesswoman/Socialite

Why Singapore? Because of its proximity to Indonesia. While shopping in Jakarta is equally attractive nowadays, going to Singapore for shopping has an element of travelling abroad as well. I used to fly to Singapore four to five times a month, but now being tied up at the office I rarely visit the city-state.
I love to shop for fashion items, especially handbags, and also wine, which is cheaper in Singapore than in Indonesia, because here there is luxury goods tax levied on wine.

Apart from being close geographically Singapore guarantees the products sold there including the service. Once I bought a branded handbag costing Rp 40 million and when it was damaged, just a little, mind you, they repaired it for free! This kind of service brings me back to Singapore again and again. My shopping destination is usually Orchard Road and I also like to go to Marina Bay Sands for shopping because it is new, huge and very complete. For payment I can use a number of credit cards, such as Master card, Visa or even Amex which has a more flexible limit.

I go to Singapore not only for shopping, for also for spa treatments and eating out, and for all this Singapore is still heaven!

Ayi Tjakrawadena, Businesswoman

Singapore is a shopper’s heaven. I can’t remember exactly how many times I have been there, but every time I want a branded item Singapore is the right place. I think the main reason is that it is simply so practical. I often I don’t have enough time to stay overnight so I go in the morning and fly back at night. That way it is just like going to a mall in Jakarta, but with a different ambience. In Singapore the goods are up to date and during the sale season it is a perfect for women to shop there.

The right time to shop in Singapore is during the Great Sale which was from May 27 until July 24 this year. Discounts were up to 70 percent on all items. Zara, for example, in Singapore has a more complete range. At @313 Somerset Zara is available on three floors. The labels are classified. There are special offers, discounts and gifts when you use Master card which is the official sponsor. At that time apart from the discounts Master card provided a return ticket to Singapore for every purchase of $100 for non-local customers. Master card in Singapore can be used at more than 100 shopping centers. Unfortunately the limit of my Master card is less than my Visa (and it is usually like that) so I had to back it up with some cash.

I often purchase wallets at Takashimaya and Tangs on Orchard Road as most of my wallets do not last long as somehow I frequently lose them. Wallets are suitable gifts for friends or relatives. The original LV wallets here in Indonesia are more costly than in Singapore. At Bonia wallet boutique there is often a 50 percent discount on items while at Indonesia’s luxury malls the same items are labeled as new arrivals. For MAC cosmetics one can exchange six containers for one brand new item, so I always bring with me six empty lipstick containers to get one free MAC lipstick. Isn’t that fantastic?

Singapore’s ViVo City is the largest and most complete mall and it has a full range of branded goods, restaurants and a large cinema complex. It is very close to Sentosa Island, so if you have spare time you can dabble in gambling for a while. I sometime visit the island when I accompany a foreigner to Singapore.

For less costly but still original items go to OG on Bugis Street, which is similar to Jakarta’s Mangga Dua which is also in China Town. But you can’t use credit cards at every shop here, because the shops are small and rather congested like shops in a bazaar.

Virginia, Media Relations

Shopping in Singapore used to have such a prestigious ring to it back in the days when only people with a certain lifestyle could afford it.

Today traveling to Singapore has become easier and more convenient with increased number of budget flights available. Compared with other countries’ major cities Singapore still remains the number one choice for shopping for Indonesians. If Hong Kong is Asia’s Paris, then Singapore is its Milan for Indonesians.

Another notable consideration is that Singapore has brands that are not available here, even though we have improved substantially in that department but again we are trumped by the fact that Singapore has more alluringly price tags. The fact that they give a GST refund is the icing on the cake.

The extreme popularity of Orchard Road is overwhelming. Even with newer shopping addresses being introduced Orchard Road is still the most popular shopping destination. There is Forum, Renaissance, Shaw Centre, CK Tang, ION Orchard, Wisma Atria, Ngee Ann City, of course Lucky Plaza, Paragon, Mandarin Gallery, the increasingly popular Sommerset 313, further to Centerpoint and all the way down to Plaza Singapura. Shopping in Orchard though generally defined from the junction of Orchard and Scott roads down to Centerpoint if not Sommerset 313. The more central the more premium the shopping is to a certain extent. The golden triangle would arguably be ION Orchard, Ngee Ann City and Paragon. Not even The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands can compete, well not for now at least. Obviously Suntec and Vivo City could not.

It just so happens that the holiday season coincides with Singapore Great Sales, in the middle and end of the year. It is these times of the year when Singapore celebrates retail therapy, and guess who are there to celebrate? Proudly and unmistakably, the Indonesians!

Yes, the tremendous prestige of shopping in Singapore has managed to uphold its celebrated image. There is a certain pride attached to the statement “I bought it in Singapore,” even though it is an established fact that the prices are considerably less offensive. Singapore independently has successfully established itself as a destination in Southeast Asia, not only for Indonesians but also for Malaysians, Thais and people from Brunei, among others. There are of course other reasons why Singapore is such a popular destination such as business, medical treatment and education, and more recently, gaming.



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