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Health, Beauty & Fashion

Shoppers keep tills ringing this GSS

MasterCard cardholders spend 49% more than in same period last year
The Straits Times - July 13, 2011
By: Joanna Seow
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Shoppers keep tills ringing this GSS

IT'S not over yet, but it looks like this year's Great Singapore Sale (GSS) could be set to rack up some impressive customer spending figures.

A MasterCard survey of the sale's first month showed cardholders splashed out a total of $830.7 million - 49 per cent more than in the same period last year.

Experts told The Straits Times the rise could be due to the feel-good factor created by Singapore's buoyant economic performance and a positive outlook in the labour market.

The figures - which covered May 27 to June 25 - were only for MasterCard holders.

They showed the bulk of spending came from Singapore-based cardholders, with restaurants their top spending destination.

But tourists were also flashing the plastic. They spent $277.9 million - 43 per cent more than in the first month of last year's sale, with Americans, Malaysians and Australians leading the spending charge.

The sale lasts until July 24.

With Singapore on target to exceed last year's record of 11.6 million tourist arrivals, industry experts say visitors are likely to be key contributors to spending in Singapore. 'Local consumption is one key driver of spending, while another key driver would be the strong inflow of tourists,' said DBS economist Irvin Seah.

Several banks here told The Straits Times that they have seen significant increases in consumer spending at this year's GSS, compared to last year's.

'We see double-digit growth against the same period last year,' said Ms Gan Ai Im, UOB's regional and Singapore head of cards and payment products.

She added: 'Clothing and electronics are two of the most popular segments.'

Mr Han Kwee Juan, Citibank Singapore's managing director, said: 'We have seen strong double-digit growth across all categories of spending, such as shopping, dining and travel.'

Furniture and electronics retailer Courts has also enjoyed strong sales during the first month of the GSS - up by 15 to 20 per cent compared to last year.

The increase in cardholder spending could be due to the rise in incomes caused by Singapore's buoyant economic performance, explained DBS' Mr Seah. 'Furthermore, we are having a positive outlook in the labour market, along with positive wealth effects from asset appreciation,' he said.

According to the MasterCard survey, the value of transactions by both Singapore-based and tourist cardholders increased by nearly 50 per cent. However, the number of transactions increased by only 28 per cent, which suggests that cardholders may be spending on more costly goods and services.

Mr Seah said the strong economy has created 'a feel-good factor that leads to consumers being willing to spend more'.

This is true for cardholders such as marketing executive Mark Liew, 29.

'I think I have been eating out more this year as compared to last year, in part because of the buoyant economy,' he said.




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