Luxury brand boutiques continue to thrive at MBS despite Singapore’s brick-and-mortar retail slump – here’s why

Retail stores and shoppers at the luxury shopping mall at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands.
The Straits Times

The digital age is causing a major shake-up in the retail industry with brick-and-mortar shops struggling to stay ahead of online store offerings.

But luxury brands appear to be the exemption from this market trend, as shoppers continue to appreciate being able to visit a single destination for all their needs and wants, according to Mr John Postle, vice-president of retail at Marina Bay Sands (MBS).

He told Business Insider: “They want to walk into a store, touch the products, be pampered and have service staff look after their needs and wants.

“They are also after exclusivity – and would go the extra mile for bespoke products and services.”

The proof is in the numbers.

The Shoppes at MBS, Singapore’s largest luxury shopping mall, saw a 32% increase in mall revenue (S$229 million) compared to figures from 2011, when it first opened.

As part of the integrated resort (IR), The Shoppes is home to more than 170 premium brands under one roof and is frequented daily by a 130,000-strong crowd made up of global and local clientele.

Of Singapore’s current retail trends, Mr Postle said: “Even as media reports lament the fall of the brick and mortar stores in this digital age, what we’ve found in luxury retail is quite the opposite.”

To cater to these shoppers, Mr Postle added that many single unit retailers at The Shoppes have chosen to double their presence, with MBS now housing more than 15 luxury duplex and triplex stores – the biggest in the region.

In a press statement on July 11, MBS announced that a diverse range of renowned luxury brands are slated to join The Shoppes later this year.

They include notable names like French fashion powerhouse Balmain, boutique jeweler Nirav Modi and French perfume house Henry Jacques, that will open its first and only standalone store in Southeast Asia. Expansion plans are also in the works for French fashion brand Chanel as well as American jewellery boutique Tiffany & Co.

In the next decade, Mr Postle believes “that the physical shopping experience will continue to prevail or even co-exist in a thriving digital retail landscape.”

“There are high value experiences that cannot be replicated in an online environment – nothing can be compared to a shopper’s excitement of entering a physical store and being treated like a VIP, or the satisfaction of walking out of the store with your purchases in hand,” he explained.