Himaya Quasem – Straits Times
Singapore. Singapore is the fifth best shopping city in the Asia-Pacific region, ahead of Sydney and Bangkok but lagging behind Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai and Beijing, a survey has found. Meanwhile, Jakarta ranked 17 out of 25 cities surveyed in the region.
While Singapore ranked within the top 10 in most of the criteria in the Globe Shopper Index, compiled by the London-based Economist Intelligence Unit, it fared poorly on affordability.
When it comes to getting a bargain, Singapore ranked a dismal 19th. However, Singapore shone in the safety criterion.
The city-state was joint with Auckland and Hong Kong in ranking No.1 in that category. Singapore also ranked a respectable third place, behind Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur, when it came to the quality of the shops on offer here.
The authors of a report that accompanied the survey results emphasized the important role shopping plays in tourism.
“Although comprehensive data is difficult to obtain, everything suggests that shopping plays an integral part in Asian tourism,” they said. “In Hong Kong, the latest data shows 87 percent of tourists go shopping. In Singapore, meanwhile, 20 percent of all tourist spending in 2011 was on shopping.”
The index ranked cities under five main categories: shops, culture and climate, hotels and transport, affordability, and convenience. The rankings were designed to help international shoppers in weighing up which city to visit.
Singapore achieved the fifth highest overall score of 60 out of 100. Hong Kong scored 69, Kuala Lumpur 65, Shanghai 63 and Beijing 61. The high ranking of the two Chinese cities is probably indicative of growing consumer power within China, the report said.
“Probably the biggest surprise of the index is the relatively high ranking of Shanghai and Beijing. In third and fourth place respectively, they are placed just ahead of Singapore, which has a much bigger reputation as a shopping destination,” it said.
“Chinese tourists are gaining a global reputation as shoppers and it makes sense for domestic locations to try to tap that market as well.”
In fact, the report suggested that Hong Kong, which ranked as the best shopping city in Asia-Pacific, had benefited from a boom in visitors from mainland China who tend to spend significantly more than average and are frequently looking to “avoid substantial sales taxes back home.”
The report said Kuala Lumpur had managed to secure second place in the overall rankings as its shopping environments combined low prices with a good range of products in a large number of stores, including three of the world’s 10 biggest shopping malls.
While Jakarta tanked in the list, getting an overall score of 46 out of a
possible 100, it fared the best in affordability, with high scores in
city transport, hotel prices and exchange-rate stability.
report mentioned the city’s steamy streets, vibrant nightlife and the
friendliness of the Javanese people as those that leave the biggest
impressions on shoppers.
Weak foreign language skills and the
inconvenient journey from the airport to the city, however, keep Jakarta
from competing well with other cities.
A separate Globe Shopper Index for European cities ranked London as first, Madrid and Barcelona as joint second, Paris as third, followed by Rome in fourth and Berlin, fifth.
The Asia-Pacific survey was conducted between January and February this year. Methodology included gathering data from official sources, such as tourism bureaus and airports. Contributors were also used to collect prices from shops around the region.
The Economist Intelligence Unit is part of the Economist Group and founded as an in-house research unit for The Economist newspaper and commissioned by Switzerland-based shopping tourism company Global Blue.
Reprinted courtesy of The Straits Times. Additional reporting from JG.