With the popularity of e-commerce and overseas shopping destinations, what is the way forward for Singapore’s retail scene?

Scale model of the new Funan built with Lego bricks

Only a handful of about 200 attendees at the recent Real Estate Developers’ Association of Singapore (Redas) property market update seminar on July 7 spent at least $200 in a Singapore shopping mall in recent months, according to a straw poll conducted by Knight Frank Singapore’s Wendy Low, executive director of retail, and Alice Tan, head of consultancy and research.

Tan: Online presence and shopping is not enough on their own. There is a need to offer a seamless online and offline experience.

Singapore is ranked seventh on Expedia’s list of the “World’s 25 best shopping cities”, behind New York City, Berlin, Los Angeles, London, Kuala Lumpur and Tokyo, in that order. Expedia ranked the cities based on their scores in three areas: Value for money (Singapore scored eight out of 10); friendliness towards tourists (eight out of 10); and annual tourist numbers (seven out of 10).

Stiff competition has resulted in a drop in average retail spending per tourist: 16.4 million tourists visited Singapore in 2016, a 13.1% increase over the 14.5 million in 2012. However, the amount spent per tourist fell 3.1% from US$386 ($528) to US$374 between 2012 and 2016, according to data compiled by Knight Frank.