Singapore is the undisputed shopping capital of the region. With so much to see and buy, here are just some tips to get you started on your spree.
Malls are generally open 10am-9pm throughout the week, with certain stores closing earlier on Sundays. On public holidays, malls may open till 10pm. Small stores tend to close by 5pm daily, with some closed entirely on Sundays.
The prices of items in majority of stores island-wide are fixed. Only with the smaller stores outside of shopping malls will you be able to engage in bargaining as the vendors occasionally quote higher initial prices. Do take advantage of the month-long Great Singapore Sale that takes place from June to July annually. Expect discounts of up to 70% during this period.
Tax Refund Scheme
If you are a tourist, when you shop in places that display the sign “tax-free shopping”, it means that you will be refunded up to SGD100 from the goods and services tax (GST) paid. Simply request and the sales personnel will fill out a Tax Free Shopping Cheque. Retain this together with the sales receipt and present it all at customs upon departure. You will subsequently be directed to any Global Refund Counters within the airport for an immediate refund in cash (in SGD). Alternatively, you could request for it to be credited to your credit card account or for an airport shopping voucher. Take note that each person is entitled to a maximum claim of SGD500, after spending a minimum of SGD300 overall.
Sound tedious? Fret not! A new electronic tourist refund system (eTRS) is in the works and will be fully implemented by the third quarter of 2012. Beginning mid-2011, 500 retail outlets will use the new system. Purchase details will be captured at the point of sale and stored in a token that operates like a credit card. By presenting the token at the airport checkpoints, tourists will enjoy faster clearances with no paper-hassle!
Shopping Belts and Areas
Orchard Road: Asia’s most well-known shopping boulevard
Bugis Street: Singapore’s largest shopping street, attracting over 10 million shoppers annually
Marina Bay and City Hall: Located within the city’s civic district, this precinct is awash with hotels, offices, shopping centres and colonial government buildings
Chinatown and Little India: These enclaves have been spruced up considerably in recent years. They are now tourist hotspots, with great traditional buys and authentic food
The Suburbs: Once sleepy neighbourhoods have now been transformed into mini hubs away from the city centre, complete with numerous shopping and dining options