Robinsons' closure: Department stores struggle to find relevance with today's shoppers
The demise of one of Singapore's oldest and best-loved department stores marks the end of an era for the retail scene here.. Read more at straitstimes.com.
It may also spell the beginning of the end for the one-stop-shop format, which has struggled to remain relevant among younger shoppers.The closure of Robinsons' store at Jem mall in Jurong earlier this year was a telltale sign that all was not well, retail experts said, adding that the brand's exit should have surprised no one.
Department stores around the world have been gasping for breath even before the pandemic, which served only to accelerate the decline of giants like Neiman Marcus in the United States.Once a shopper's paradise, department stores have fallen behind the times, outpaced by fast fashion chains and out-priced by online retailers.
Observers noted that Robinsons had revamped its image to court a younger crowd in recent years, and built hype around its annual Black Friday sale, which would see throngs of shoppers queue overnight outside its Orchard Road flagship store.But these efforts - along with a bigger e-commerce push with the launch of an online store on LazMall earlier this year - were not enough to keep Robinsons viable for its owner, Al-Futtaim Group.
The value offered by department stores - such as convenience and product curation - has been eroded by e-commerce and direct-to-consumer channels, noted Ms Esther Ho, director of Nanyang Polytechnic's School of Business Management.With high rental and inventory costs, falling foot traffic in shopping malls and a tourist drought amid pandemic-related restrictions, Ms Ho said more closures are to be expected if things remain as they are.
Robinsons closure met with sadness, concern over job losses | THE BIG STORY Isetan Singapore sank into the red in the first half of this year with a net loss of $317,000, the company reported in August.A spokesman for the Japanese retailer told The Straits Times there are no plans to downsize, adding that the department store is meeting sales expectations.
Metro and Tangs declined to comment on the performance and plans for their department stores, while Takashimaya did not respond to queries.More on this topic Department stores saw a 35.3 per cent year-on-year drop in sales in August, the second largest decline among retail categories tracked by the Singapore Department of Statistics.
A robust online strategy will not be enough to save the model, experts say, as competition in the digital sphere is fierce, with e-commerce marketplaces that offer an endless array of items including those that department stores are known for.And these online competitors do not have to contend with the high prices of downtown rentals, or the crippling costs of a huge inventory.
A narrower focus and better customer service across both offline and online channels may create a path forward, said experts.Mr Amos Tan, a senior lecturer at Singapore Polytechnic's School of Business, said in the absence of unique products, department stores must rely on data analytics of consumer trends and shoppers' behaviour, seamless digital and in-store experiences and a solid membership rewards programme to survive and grow their base.
At least one local department store is rising to the challenge.BHG, which has five stores here, said plans for their transformation that include more in-store lifestyle offerings, experiences and food and beverage options are underway.More on this topic It recently launched several private labels in addition to an e-commerce platform, and response so far has been encouraging, said BHG's chief financial officer Jheeva Subramanian.Read more: The Straits Times »
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Robinsons to close remaining stores in Singapore and MalaysiaRobinsons has pulled out completely from the Malaysian and Singapore markets after 162 years of operations.
Goodbye Robinsons: A look at the department store's 160 years in SingaporeSINGAPORE: Robinsons announced on Friday (Oct 30) that it will close its last two department stores in Singapore, after more than 160 years in the ... That's sad. They always provide excellent customer service and quality goods ☹😭 160yrs down the drain......just one swipe by the pandenmic n it is over........Closed shop.
Robinsons to close last 2 stores in Singapore due to weak demandSINGAPORE: After more than 160 years in Singapore, Robinsons is closing its last two department stores at The Heeren and Raffles City Shopping Centre. Thank you for the expo sales. RobinsonsForever
The Straits Times @STcomST LIVE: Robinsons to close last stores at The Heeren, Raffles City
Remembering Robinsons: 19th century department store survived fatal inferno, Japanese invasion6 things you probably didn’t know about the historic retailer. This article, Remembering Robinsons: 19th century department store survived fatal inferno, Japanese invasion, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Legendary icon undoubtedly!
Tears flow, sadness prevails as Robinsons employees eye empty shelves, serve customers before closureSINGAPORE — Those who have been around Robinsons long enough could sense that things were not looking good, but not Mr Andy Ng, a sales supervisor who has been there for just two years. “We found out this morning during a meeting,” he said of the department store’s liquidation, which was announced on Friday (Oct 30). “I didn’t expect it.”