Published date: 17/05/2021
In the past, Orchard Road is a place where all the cool and rich kids hang out in. But in recent days, the Orchard Road shopping belt is no longer that trendy and cool anymore. Although it is still as crowded as ever, many of the shopping malls in the area are struggling and coming up with desperate measures to attract more customers who will actually spend their money in the stores there.
Here are some reasons why Orchard Road isn’t as popular with Singaporeans anymore.
- Increase In Better Hangout Spots In Singapore
Back in the olden days, there were no hipsters cafes and Arab Street was just known for the mosque and old school fabric shops. Also, Marina Bay/Marina South area was known for its bowling alleys and kit flying spots. There wasn’t exactly much centralized location where people can hang out in. At that time, Orchard Road was pretty much the only place where you can purchase nice clothes and dine in mid or high- range restaurants, all in one single location. Although other shopping areas such as Holland Village and Siglap was still around at that time, due to the lack of internet, not many people were able to find their way there.
But these days, there are just so many more places where you can explore and spend your days chilling out in. For example, if you are looking for a café hopping session, you can head over to Tiong Bahru and if you want to buy hipster clothes and accessories, there is also Haji Lane to get your stuff from. Even luxury goods can now be found in Marina Bay Sands.
Betty, a 26year old Sales executive living in the Bukit Batok area said that she no longer spend as much of her free time in the city centre anymore. “My area used to be quite dead, but now with the opening of the new Hillion mall and the influx of cafes and restaurants at Lorong Kilat, Chun Tin and the Old Fire Station, I prefer to hang out here on weekends than travel to town. I used to spend quite a lot of time at Orchard in my JC and uni days, but go there only once every few months now,” she added.
- Preference to Shop Online & In Heartland Malls
Singaporeans would much rather shop online or in heartland malls as most of the items that can be found in Orchard Road can also be found in these platforms. So why should they be squeezing with the other people along Orchard Road, right? In the past, Heartland Malls are often laden with shops like This Fashion and Popular but nowadays, many of these Heartland Malls are housing international brands like Kate Spade Saturday, Calvin Klein Jeans and Armani Exchange in Westgate. NEX Shopping Mall also features a rooftop garden and even a dog park.
Apart from heartland malls, shopping online has now become so much easier with the improved modern technology. In addition, the stuff which you get online are usually much cheaper than those you see in shops since the retailer don’t have to pay high rental fees.
“I buy a large fraction of my things online now, from vitamin supplements to books for my kids. It’s so much more convenient as I don’t need to waste my time travelling to shopping malls. I can even get the merchants to deliver my purchases to my office,” said Sonia, a 38year old writer.
Furthermore, parking fares in the town area have also increased over the years. Instead of the per entry fee after 6pm, many parking spaces in the Orchard malls have been replaced with time-based per entry rates. Don’t fret though, as there are still some safe places where you can park your vehicle at an affordable parking rate.
- Too Crowded
Back in the days before Singapore was filled with people, Orchard Road was only crowded to the extend that it was considered vibrant and lively and the only areas which are too jam-packed for comfort would be the underpass between Wisma Atria and Takashimaya. Nowadays, the entire stretch of the shopping precinct is filled with people, especially during the weekends. You could argue that with more people, the shopping malls will all be earning more money right? That’s not the case. This is because the appearance of new shopping malls such as ION Orchard, Somerset 313, Orchard Central and Knightsbridge have overshadowed the older shopping malls like Ngee Ann City and Wisma Atria.
Kit, a 30year old self-professed shopaholic says that, “Driving to Orchard Road and squeezing with the crowds is too stressful. If I need to buy something, I just go straight to the shop and then get out as soon as I can. Shopping at Orchard on weekends is not enjoyable because it’s so damn crowded it makes me nauseous.”
Many Singaporeans are finding Orchard Road too overcrowded with people that it takes a toll on their mental wellbeing therefore most of them are now finding places and other shopping malls which are less stressful and more relaxing to hang out in. There are even those who are willing to travel a long distance to hang out at cafes in the suburban neighborhoods.