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‘The new normal’ in Singapore

Article by
Joanna Bogdan

Staycations are on the rise globally, Joanna Bogdan tells us how Singapore is adapting to the new normal as the city is released into ‘phase 2’ of lockdown. 

It’s been more than seven months now since the first Covid-19 case was confirmed in Singapore, and the country seems to have already established its ‘new normal’. While for some this means the return of leisure activities or being back to the office, something that stands out in the city is an increase in local tourism, or the so-called ‘staycation’—a result of not only the current Phase 2 of restrictions easing but also recent bank holidays. And while the current numbers of Covid-19 cases in Singapore remain under control, there have been six days with 0 new cases in the community, a clear indication that the “new normal” is working in the country too.  

While leisure travel is still under some restrictions, the local hotels have started to pick up their business again since May. As of 17th August 2020, there are more than 200 hotels in Singapore that are permitted to resume providing accommodation to guests (including for leisure purposes). The report on Hotels Statistics published by the Singapore Tourism Board shows that whilst the standard average occupancy rate in January 2020 was 83% it decreased to 38% in April. Still, from May it started to rise again, achieving 70% in July. It is also worth noting that in July two important bank holidays happened (Polling Day and Hari Raya Haji), followed by the National Day on the 9th August. The statistics also show that the highest occupancy rate was among a variety of hotels, including those luxury ones, which is an excellent example of the continuous purchasing power among the Singaporean community. The hotels also helped to boost their numbers themselves, offering unusual promotions and family deals.

‘The new normal’, leisure activities, staycations and businesses reactivation have also left a positive impact on outdoor advertising. According to LEXI data by Clear Channel Singapore, OOH footfall has been gradually increasing week on week. 

Since the start of Phase 2, the crowds are not only back in the residential regions, but, most importantly, in the Orchard Road area, which is Singapore’s heart of shopping. According to JCDecaux Singapore Mobility Trend Index, more than 60% of returning traffic has been registered since 5th July. The Department of Statistics of Singapore also noticed some positive data, showing the increase of 51% of total retail sales in June 2020 (vs May 2020) as well as 19% in total food and beverage sales. Finally, the Central region of Singapore, which is the key business hub, has also started to gain back the traffic. According to Moving Walls, the number of white-collar workers in this area has been doubled in comparison with North East Singapore (between June 8th -22nd versus 18th May – 8th June). This is not only great news for shopping malls, restaurants and office buildings, but also for the brands, whose marketing activities have been placed on hold due to Circuit Breaker.

Whilst it has been a turbulent time for all businesses and residents in Singapore over the last seven months, the situation is continually improving as households adapt to ‘The new normal’ in the city, making now an excellent opportunity for advertisers to reach out to their audiences while out and about. Being ‘out of home’ now has a new meaning and is presently in demand like never before, so this should be a focus, if not a priority for brands.