For a long time, the retail industry in Singapore has felt the effects from the e-commerce boom.
Last year, many well-known local and international brands — from Home-Fix to Sasa to Forever 21 — threw in the towel and announced closures.
This year, the Covid-19 pandemic has only made the situation worse for many brands.
The circuit breaker and safe-distancing measures put in place to ensure public health has also resulted in a plunge in footfall for brick-and-mortar stores.
In the first few months of 2020, Singapore has already seen a few closures, with stores moving online instead.
In end March, Hong Kong lifestyle retailer Kapok announced its closure, shifting to a completely online model.
Over the weekend, Singapore’s beloved local bookstore BooksActually, and British fashion brand Topshop and Topman also announced that they are closing their physical stores as well.
BooksActually Will “Transform Fully” Into An Online Store
BooksActually was founded 15 years ago in 2005 by Kenny Leck and then co-owner Karen Wai.
Its current location in Tiong Bahru is one that holds fond memories for many Singaporeans — with its mystery book vending machine and three resident cats.
However, on September 13, the bookstore took to its social media channels to announce the closure of its only store at Tiong Bahru.
“As the world changes around us, the bookstore has to move in tandem as well,” said Kenny in a separate social media post.
He also assured fans that he plans to continue organising literary events when possible, and that the team at BooksActually is ready to make its online store a reality after spending the first half of the year online.
The Closure Of Topshop And Topman’s Last Store In Singapore
On September 11, British fashion brands Topshop and Topman’s brand manager, Wing Tai Retail, confirmed the closure of its Vivocity outlet.
The Vivocity outlet, which is its last in Singapore, will be officially closed this Thursday, September 17.
Over the weekend, several “sale” signs were seen at the store, which attracted a snaking queue.
Topshop and Topman has been in Singapore since 2000, and its departure from Singapore will see it transitioning to a completely online store instead.
A Slate Of Permanent Closures
Other notable stores in Singapore that have left our shores permanently this year include fashion brand Esprit, and sports retail chain Sportslink.
Besides a fall in customers, rental and manpower costs also remain a difficulty for many operators.
Hence, many are having to rely on online channels as an alternative to boost sales.
Grants like the E-Commerce Booster Package administered by Enterprise Singapore are thus useful for these stores.
The grant will cover 90 per cent of the costs required to set up operations on Amazon Singapore, Lazada Singapore, Qoo10 and Shopee.
Nanyang Polytechnic School of Business Management director Esther Ho told The Straits Times that moving online would likely help brands cut the strain on resources due to the pandemic.
“The footfall in malls has taken a hit, so it is timely for businesses to try scaling up their online sales, without concurrently suffering a drain of their resources in physical stores,” she said.
Featured Image Credit: Hype and Stuff, Weekender