Sunday, May 10, 2009

Singapore's National Sport - Shopping

In Singapore, there are more shopping centres per square metre than anywhere else in the world. Actually, I don't know if that is true. I made that up. But I would not at all be surprised if that was the case. There are literally hundreds of shopping malls, all crammed into the city, on every corner, on every street. It is as though Singapore's national sport is Shopping. These malls are generally five or six stories high, have loud music blaring from the shops, promotion stands crammed into the middle and will always have thousands and thousands of people wandering aimlessly around.

Before the recession hit, I am sure that these shopping malls were thriving. And on the surface, it is as though this has not changed at all. However, it is obvious that actual buying has given way to window shopping, as the nation's growth has ceased and it is now going backwards at the rate of about 6 per cent each month.

Of more concern is the fact that there are many shopping malls STILL being built. On every major street, there is still one shopping mall being built or planned. It appears that the building of these malls had commenced prior to the global recession, and it is as though they have no other choice than to continue building them. These projects employ thousands of low paid workers and without them, many more Singaporeans would be on the unemployed line. Singapore is a non-welfare state, and so unemployment is not really an option for many of them. As the building industry employs primarily indian and bangladesh-born workers, many of them would have to go back to their home countries if their employment was ever terminated - and going back to their poor existence in these countries is just not a very inviting option.

On a lighter note, there are things to watch out for when going shopping in Singapore:

1. Be warned - there are large crowds and there really is no order to their walking patterns;

2. I have noticed that shoppers like to stop all of a sudden in the middle of the walkways, to scan the area - very frustrating when in a hurry.

3. Many shoppers like to text message on their phones while they walk. This is another frustrating thing, when in a hurry.

4. Escalators are dangerous - getting on them are fine, but getting off them are a hazard, for two reasons. Firstly, there is a likely chance that someone will cut off your path as you get off the escalator. That danger is not the biggest concern. You must first avoid the shopper in front of you who will stop in their path as soon as they get off the escalator, meaning that you are coming straight for them at a quick speed, still moving from the motion of the escalator.

5. Asian countries seem to specialise in mass consumption of useless knick-naks. Little figurines, plastic shoes, plastic buckets, plastic anything. Environment? Least of their concerns.

6. Orchard Street, Singapore on a Sunday - just dont do it.

Shopping in Singapore is certainly an adventure but an experience like no other!!


  1. LOL, maybe you should carry around a video camera and show us what it looks like in motion, like a reality TV helmet-cam!

  2. I will see what I can do!!!!