Shopping malls have brought in carnival rides, live music and craft markets to draw crowds and boost footfall.
SINGAPORE: Shopping malls are banking on enthusiasm for live experiences and interactive activities this festive season, after two years of COVID-19 restrictions.
They are turning to attractions like carnival rides, live music and craft markets to draw in the crowds and boost footfall at their premises.
But while the festive spirit is present, businesses are mixed on whether it will bring in any Christmas bonus.
Capitol Singapore, an integrated development housing a retail mall near City Hall MRT station, said it has organised more activities this year than before the pandemic.
Shoppers can experience artificial snow falling every evening, and be serenaded by live music performances featuring string quartets and live bands.
“Being the first Christmas post-COVID restrictions, we have planned for our Christmas celebrations to be more extensive than pre-COVID years,” said Ms Shirlene Chia, general manager of Perennial Singapore Retail Management, which manages the mall.
“We also wanted to offer visitors who spend Christmas in Singapore an opportunity to experience a European-themed Christmas,” she added.
The mall has therefore brought back its European-style Christmas market selling festive goods ranging from delicacies to gifts.
For small business owners who rely on such bazaars to sell their wares, these festive markets can mean a boost to their livelihoods.
At one such stall, vendor Mabel Lee said she makes 20 per cent more selling handicrafts at Capitol Singapore’s Christmas market, compared to regular pop-up stores.
“Because of the Christmas festivities, everybody’s here to shop for Christmas presents. You know, a lot of them actually came to us, telling us that they’re here to buy for corporate gift exchanges and things like that,” said Ms Lee, founder of Happy Hands Can.
Similarly, soap maker Nastasia Cheng earns 50 per cent more than usual at the Christmas market.
A regular merchant at the event, Ms Cheng also had a stall selling soaps during 2020 and 2021, when stricter pandemic restrictions were in place.
She said the easing of the mask mandate earlier this year has been a big help to her business Farly and Voe, as customers typically want to smell the scented soaps before purchasing.
“The main challenge was that with the COVID restrictions, people couldn’t take off their masks. So it (was) very hard to smell our products,” Ms Cheng said.
“So I’m really happy to see the crowds coming back. It was so sad like the previous years we couldn’t see people with their masks on but now we can see everybody and it’s just really nice,” she added.
At CHIJMES, a popular food and beverage spot, many football fans have been converging late into the night in front of big screens on its open-air lawn, as well as at the premises’ many restaurants and bars, for live screenings of the FIFA World Cup.
The Christmas spirit is also returning in full force to Suntec City, which has pulled out all the stops this year, with the scale of attractions at an all-time high.
They include a 15m-tall Christmas tree, carnival rides and games, live music by local musicians, light installations, snowfall shows, as well as art exhibitions and workshops.
Some shoppers visiting the mall and the carnival told CNA they are delighted with the interactive activities and experiences, many of which were not allowed during the past two Christmas seasons due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“I really do miss it. To see people out here coming together,” said one patron at the carnival’s games booth.
However, not all businesses are thrilled about some of the activities as the noise may affect and deter customers.
Businesses told CNA that the increase in footfall is not necessary due to the attractions, as the malls were already seeing a steady growth in customers, particularly tourists and office workers, before the festive activities started.
Suntec City said mall traffic has increased steadily since April, when Singapore significantly lifted pandemic restrictions, with monthly earnings consistently surpassing pre-pandemic sales.
It said growth momentum is expected to continue over the festive period.
With the increased footfall, the mall said it has put crowd management measures in place to ensure the safety of shoppers, such as increasing security manpower at event areas to enforce crowd control during peak periods.
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Live performances, Christmas markets draw crowds at Singapore … – CNA