Retailers see rise in spending but face competition from outbound tourism

Retailers are reporting strong sales this holiday season, if not better than last year’s.

They say this is partly due to more aggressive promotions this year.

Some banks which are tying up with shopping malls for the first time this year have reason to cheer.

They say their credit card sales are doing well.

They note that since mid-November, spending on credit cards has risen by as much as 15 percent compared to last year.

Vincent Lim, GM, Credit Cards & Personal Loans, Standard Chartered, says: “Our customers are clearly spending more this Christmas compared to last Christmas. The traditional categories like retail shopping, dining clearly have continued to see good growth. One interesting area is overseas spending. There are a lot more Singaporeans travelling overseas right now and they’re travelling more frequently as well.”

With Singaporeans travelling more often, retailers say they face a stronger competitor this holiday season.

Even with growing sales, they say the numbers are not on par with the country’s GDP growth of some 7 percent so far.

Retailers have teamed up with banks to provide more aggressive discounts on top of the reductions that are already available at the stores.

They have also come up with more lifestyle-driven retail concepts, which can range from quirky home decor pieces or tea collections tailored to the shopper’s taste or state of well-being.

Market watchers note that consumers have been finding new ways to pamper themselves.

Terin Yim, Vice-President, Merchandising and Marketing at Tangs, says: “With good bonuses, people are quite flush with cash. They’re very willing to spend on themselves and their loved ones. But retail has one of the biggest competitors and that is travel. So we’re actually very fortunate to see that our sales results are as good as last year’s. People are more willing to spend on more expensive things.”

Singaporeans are expected to spend some S$19 billion with their credit cards in 2006, or some 17 percent more compared to last year.Source: Channel NewsAsia, 22 December 2006 

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