Tourist spending, GoSpree app help make GSS a success

Great Singapore Sale gets 2 to 4.1% increase in retail sales over same period last year

After several years of gloom, the Great Singapore Sale (GSS) is finally seeing brighter days with a rise in sales reported this year.

Latest Department of Statistics data revealed that retail sales excluding motor vehicles, from June to August - covering the GSS period - registered a 2 to 4.1 per cent increase over the same period last year.

It is an improvement over the 2.3 to 6.2 per cent drop in sales for June to August last year compared with the previous year. This year's increase is also the biggest since 2012.

Singapore Retailers Association (SRA) president R. Dhinakaran, whose association organises the GSS, said this year's event was a "success".

He attributed this partly to tourist spending as the GSS coincided with holidays in Indonesia and China.

Mr Dhinakaran also said the launch of SRA's mobile shopping app, GoSpree, helped.

The app was downloaded more than 32,000 times, and over 200 participating brands conveyed exclusive offers and discounts through the app during the nine-week-long GSS.

"This app was launched to 'remake' GSS, and leverage on technology to drive shopper traffic to malls and boost sales," said Mr Dhinakaran.

"Going digital with GoSpree was a step in the right direction."

A GSS-linked app was one of the suggestions made by Straits Times readers last year to help reinvigorate the shopping event.

CIMB Private Bank economist Song Seng Wun said the increase in retail sales was partly due to the low base from last year when sales actually fell.

But he added that the increase is still encouraging and the GSS could be "worth continuing".

The "question is how to revamp it, so it becomes a combination of bricks-and-mortar stores and digital presence", he said.

Retail experts like Singapore Polytechnic Business School's senior lecturer Sarah Lim said the GSS is an event "that still creates hype and excitement", despite the modest rise in retail sales this year.

She pointed to how the app caught the attention of millennials, and how bricks-and-mortar stores worked to woo shoppers, for instance, by offering online catalogues.

Several retailers told The Straits Times that they had positive sales, with one major department store having nearly double-digit growth in June compared with last year.

Retailers also said that the GoSpree app was a good way to promote their businesses.

Smaller retailers like hobby store Soap Art said the GoSpree app created a spillover effect, as those who downloaded it recommended products to others and kept sales going.

Ms Esther Ho, deputy director at Nanyang Polytechnic's School of Business Management, said physical retailers still face challenges, especially with shopping websites holding online flash sales.

SRA said the GSS will return for its 25th edition next year.

Those with suggestions for the next GSS can e-mail SRA at

Great Singapore SaleEconomyNanyang Polytechnic