Tenant upset by closure

THE closing of roads leading to the SingTel Singapore Grand Prix circuit has upset some shop and restaurant tenants at Suntec City and Marina Square.

Many of the them told The Straits Times that business has nose-dived owing to the inconvenience following the road closure. Others blamed the slower economy.

Several roads, such as Beach Road and Bras Basah Road, had sections closed since yesterday in preparation for the weekend’s F1 race.

Said Adelina Kamarulzaman, 25, and a store manager at the Build-A-Bear-Workshop at Suntec City: ‘On a normal weekday, we carry out about 20 transactions.

‘On Monday, we had only eight. And we have not had a single sale today.

‘Usually, by this time (2pm), we would already have five transactions.’

To add to their woes, four birthday parties scheduled at the store during the weekend, plus another one on Friday, were all cancelled.

She said that customers cited road closure as the reason for the change in plans.

Francis Lee, 25, a sales executive at a handphone shop in Suntec City, also noted a downturn in business.

He said: ‘Since Monday, business has slowed down. The crowd has gone down by about half.’

Its patrons usually consist of churchgoers. But the store will have to do without them this Sunday as the New Creation Church will be moving its services to the Singapore Indoor Stadium at Kallang.

Lee said: ‘Every weekend, there are about 20,000 churchgoers. Although we can’t say that everyone will come to our shop, they form a large part of the crowd.’

Deacon Matthew Kang confirmed that the decision to switch its services elsewhere was due to the inconvenience caused by road closure.

Student teacher Jasline Ang, 24, is one churchgoer who will divert from her normal routine of eating, shopping and catching the occasional movie at Suntec City. Instead, she will be going to Kallang’s Leisure Park this weekend.

Another shopper, Lim Siew Kiang, 20, will also be avoiding the Marina area and turning to malls like VivoCity.

Still, some tenants in the area can count on office workers for support.

When The Straits Times went to Suntec City and Marina Square over the past two days, many office workers were seen there during lunchtime.

Bank employee Eugene Tian, 31, whose office at the Centennial Tower is a short walk away from Suntec City, is one such patron.

He said: ‘The road closure does not bother me. I come here for lunch every day.’

A check at Suntec City’s Food Republic indicated brisk business, with some patrons resorting to using tissue paper to reserve seats.

However, most of the restaurant tenants at Suntec City expressed concern.

Said Jinger Ban Dan, 36, a supervisor at Kenny Rogers: ‘It’s been really quiet today. We had fewer than 80 customers during lunchtime.

‘Usually, we have about 120 customers on a weekday.’

Over at Ichiban, senior assistant manager Moon Hung, 30, said: ‘Our takings during lunch today were about $500 less than a normal weekday.’

While some tenants are not expecting business to pick up, others are hopeful that the 40,000 tourists expected to be in Singapore for the F1 race will have the cash registers ringing soon.

Hung said: ‘We have strengthened our manpower because we heard that the hotels around this area are fully booked.

‘We hope business will improve during the coming days.’

Assistant manager at Marina Square’s Gain City Ho Eng Keng, 52, added: ‘We have to be optimistic. Hopefully, more tourists will come to Singapore during race days, and shop for electronics such as cameras and handycams.’

BUSINESS AFFECTED

‘There was no business on Monday. The tourists never came. Today’s takings – only $18 so far.’ – SUSAN NEO, sales assistant, on business at her jewellery and accessories store, in the early afternoon

‘This is the first time F1 is in Singapore so we don’t know what to expect. This month’s takings have been the lowest of the year so far. I just hope that this weekend will be better, especially when people have gotten their pay.’ – ALMA GABRIEL, restaurant supervisor, on the effect on the food business

‘I’m not sure. It’s either going to be very good or very bad. F1 ticket holders will either be going to just watch the race or may shop and eat before and after the race.’ – KEITH LEE, owner of a push-cart shop, on whether there will be an upturn in business during race days

‘Staff members have been standing around doing nothing.’ – JASMINE WONG, manager of a restaurant, on the poor business

‘This month, business has dipped by 20 per cent. It may not be because of F1, but rather, purchasing power has been affected.’ – EDMUND PEK, who works in a push-cart shop selling personalised items

‘We usually have some reservations, but there’s been nothing so far today.’ – SEBASTIN CHACKO, restaurant captain

‘Since Monday, business has started to slow down. The crowd has gone down by about half.’ – FRANCIS LEE, sales executive, on business at his mobile phone store

‘We have to be optimistic. Hopefully, more tourists will come to Singapore during race days.’ – HO ENG KENG, assistant manager at Marina Square’s Gain City

‘We have strengthened our manpower because we heard the hotels around this area are fully booked. We hope business will improve during the coming days.’ – MOON HUNG, senior assistant manager at a restaurant

Source : Straits Times – 24 Sep 2008

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