Singapore malls, retailers heartened by return of shoppers, who also follow safety rules | Inquirer News
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Singapore malls, retailers heartened by return of shoppers, who also follow safety rules

/ 10:51 AM June 21, 2020

People queueing up to use the SafeEntry check-in and check-out system on June 19, 2020. The Straits Times/Asia News Network/CHONG JUN LIANG

SINGAPORE — Malls and retailers breathed a sigh of relief on Friday (June 19) as shoppers streamed in for most of the day, heralding the start of phase two of Singapore’s reopening.

With safety measures in place, including limits on the number of customers and applying the SafeEntry check-in system, most malls and stores said the queues were manageable. Customers also took the precautionary steps in stride.

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A spokesman for shopping mall Nex said: “It’s definitely been heartening to see the return of shoppers to Nex. Despite the perpetual incoming flow of shoppers from early in the morning, there was no massive bottleneck or long waiting time in queues to enter or exit the mall.”

Mall operator Frasers Property Retail said human traffic at its malls, including Causeway Point and Bedok Point, was double that of earlier this week, when phase one did not allow retailers to open their physical stores.

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Its spokesman noted that “shoppers are following the safe management principles while shopping and dining at our malls today”.

Additional entry and exit points will be opened for a smoother flow of traffic if necessary, he added. “We are also working closely with our tenants to ensure they carry out the required health and safety precautions.”

Electronics and furniture retailer Courts saw a steady flow of shoppers at all its 14 stores on Friday.

At its megastore in Tampines, a handful of people waited in line even before it opened at 10am. By 11am, about 30 people were queuing to enter the store.

Mr Matthew Hoang, country chief executive officer of Courts Singapore, said sales were more than double that of the same day last year.

“We observed many customers coming in with a clear intention to buy and they were focused on what items to buy. This is encouraging as it indicates Singaporeans are heeding the call to behave responsibly by not spending a significant amount of time browsing,” he added.

At fashion chain H&M, floor markings for queue management and signs to remind people to keep at least 1m apart helped to ensure that shoppers follow safe distancing rules.

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Its stores also made public announcements to reinforce the safe distancing message.

H&M had safety protocols for trying on clothes.

Each customer is allowed to try on four garments, down from seven. Alternate fitting rooms are open for their use and the room is sanitized after each use.

Clothes tried on but unsold are steamed and disinfected with disinfectant spray before they are returned to the shop floor.

Other safety measures taken by retailers include temperature checks of customers and staff, ensuring that shoppers wear masks and that hand sanitizer is readily available, plus cleaning common areas regularly.

The hunger for beauty services appears acute, with waxing salon chain Strip saying demand is “overwhelming”.

The chain, owned by Spa Esprit Group, is fully booked till mid-July.

Ms Samantha Ong, marketing director of its beauty division, said: “We’ve received over 2,000 messages in the past few days.All our phone lines are jammed as everyone is making appointment bookings since earlier this week, when the phase two reopening was announced.”

Safety for both staff and customers, however, remains a top priority, she added.

The company has a strict 10-step hygiene protocol that includes requiring employees to mask up, don gloves and sanitize all tools, equipment and workstations with hospital-grade disinfectant before and after every customer.

“Everyone is happy that we are finally resuming our businesses,” she said.

“Our employees are very relieved to be back to work after waiting in uncertainty for more than two months. It’s like seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.”

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