Explore Singapore’s many shopping districts with this handy guide to some of the city’s most popular hotspots.
Shopping is widely considered a national pastime for Singaporeans And it’s no wonder, given that a stroll down iconic shopping belt Orchard Road will leave you struck by the ubiquitous brand names that flank the boulevard. Many flea markets also pop up in the city, which appeal to the intrepid bargain-hunter. No matter your budget, here are some tips to master the art of retail therapy on the island.
1. Mark your calendars for sales season
If you love the thrill of unbelievable discounts, head to the island during the Great Singapore Sale, affectionately known to locals as GSS. This is an annual island-wide event that takes place over ten weeks from June to August, where retailers offer massively slashed prices (up to 70 per cent!) — you’ll do a double take at every turn.
Shopaholics, get your credit cards ready with deals for electronics, fashion, homeware, dining, and just about anything under the sun.
Insider tip: head off the beaten track for jaw-dropping finds. Sniff out quirky collectibles at quaint neighbourhood Tiong Bahru, where old school charm meets indie cool. Or spend hours picking out trendy (and ridiculously cheap) clothes and Singapore souvenirs at the sprawling Bugis Street Market, with over 800 stalls under its roof.
For shoppers who thirst for the unique, hipster haven Haji Lane is just a stone’s throw away with its line-up of eclectic boutiques.
As for those who missed the GSS season, fret not. The end of the year heralds another slew of sales to mark Christmas, New Year, and Chinese New Year celebrations — one of the perks of Singapore’s multiculturalism.
2. Nab steals at pop-up markets
There’s nothing like a good ol’ flea market for original bargains. Enter the flea’s modern cousin — the pop-up market.
Check these out for locally made knick-knacks, affordable art, and artisanal products. From vintage clothing bazaars to handmade craft displays, the city has markets that will cater to any taste.
Go underground to iconic nightlife venue Zouk — but in the day, on Sundays — to nab fashion straight out of the cool kids’ wardrobes at the quarterly Zouk Flea & Easy. Or support local talent at MAAD (Market of Artists and Designers) by picking up quirky trinkets and accessories amid upbeat DJ-spun tunes at the Red Dot Design Museum.
As for vintage lovers, trawl the weekly China Square Central Flea market. There, you’ll be rewarded with rare records, toys, books, and even watches. For insatiable shoppers with a thinned-out wallet, try your luck at Fleawhere’s regular fleas at Lucky Plaza’s top floors (we hear that clothes go for as low as SGD 1.)
3. Power up with handy shopping services
Not everyone has the luxury of time to scour the malls or districts for that one-of-a-kind deal. Maximise your minutes by taking advantage of personal shopping services.
Navigate through six floors and 380 labels at Robinsons The Heeren with the help of a complimentary personal shopper who’ll dispense style tips to take your look up a notch. Or head to retail and lifestyle giant TANGS — with a minimum purchase, enjoy delivery services right to your hotel doorstep.
Opt for the VIP treatment with The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands’ by-appointment-only personal shopping service, where you’ll be treated to a complimentary scent profiling session by perfume house Penhaligon’s as well as high tea at TWG Tea Salon and Boutique.
As for a spot of last-minute retail therapy before your flight, get a leg up on duty-free shopping with iShop Changi. Simply head online, order that bottle of wine and pick it up before you hit the gates.
4. Do it all at multi-label stores
Opt for an immersive experience when you shop. Multi-concept stores enhance the retail experience with dining options, workshops, and custom services so that you walk out with an extra spring in your step.
Take home something crafted by your own hands too. Besides selling artisanal products, Tyrwhitt General Company offers leather crafting and silk-screening workshops, while design-centric retailer Naiise teaches you how to arrange a gorgeous bouquet.
For the artsy among us, take a trip down avant-garde lane at salon-slash-shop SUPERSPACE, which carries local brands Maship and RÊVASSEUR — you might have seen these standout pieces on the runways of Seoul and New York’s fashion weeks.
5. Master your tax refunds
After the heady whirl of swiping that credit card and lugging a mountain of shopping bags, it’s time to do that necessary evil — your tax refunds. For visitors to Singapore, the process of getting back some dough is easy. Make sure you’re eligible: with purchase of over SGD 100, you can claim the Goods and Services Tax (GST) paid on your purchases at participating retail shops when you finally head home. Use the electronic Tourist Refund Scheme (eTRS) for hassle-free refunds. All you have to do is choose a single credit or debit card as a Token for tagging purchases, then retrieve all that in one go when applying for a refund at the self-help kiosk at the airport or cruise centre.