Singapore

Lucky Plaza shop owners upset over 'illegal hawkers'

Retailers at Lucky Plaza mall are up in arms over what appears to be an illegal flea market that has sprung up near the building and is affecting their businesses.

While the authorities have punished some illegal hawkers, retailers say the problem persists and they hope more can be done.

Lucky Plaza in Orchard Road is a popular hangout for Filipino domestic workers on Sundays, with many having picnics nearby.

But since July last year, retailers have noticed the itinerant sellers, mainly women with several large bags of clothes and shoes, selling items out of the bags.

The number of such "stalls" has grown to as many as 10.

Retailers, particularly those selling dried foods, cosmetics, fashion items and phones, said their sales revenue has dropped by 20 per cent to 50 per cent in the past four to six months, and they believe this is because of the illegal hawkers.

Mr K.D. Chan, 45, whose family runs a shop selling Filipino products including toiletries and canned food in Lucky Plaza, told The Straits Times: "The illegal hawkers are getting bolder - they bring bags of brand new shoes and T-shirts to sell.

"There are even manicure and haircutting services provided."

He and about 15 other retailers who run 20 to 30 shops in the mall are planning a petition for more enforcement action to be taken.

Another retailer, a 49-year-old who wanted to be known only as Mr O.J., said: "We're not biased against any race or nationality. Many of the Lucky Plaza business owners are Filipinos or Singaporeans married to Filipinos. All we seek is a law-abiding, level playing field in business."

Rental costs in Lucky Plaza could be as much as $15,000 per month, or $30,000 to $40,000 per month for shops on the ground floor.

Yesterday, The Straits Times saw two "stalls" with at least seven large bags each - one behind Tong Building, next to Lucky Plaza; and another outside Richmond Park condominium nearby, where customers appeared to be buying shoes.

Mr Chan said he usually sees five or six such informal "stalls" spread out along the street on Sundays.

The National Environment Agency said it had received 10 reports of unregulated street hawking activity outside Lucky Plaza since January.

"Checks have been carried out and enforcement actions were taken against five foreigners who were illegally hawking clothes and apparel," said its spokesman.

DOMESTIC HELPEROrchardNATIONAL ENVIRONMENT AGENCY