Topshop, BooksActually Close Physical Stores In S’pore, Will Go Online

For a long time, Singapore’s retail industry has felt the effects of the e-commerce boom.

Over the past year, many well-known local and international brands – from Home-Fix to Sasa to Forever 21 – have thrown in the towel and announced closures.

This year, the Covid-19 pandemic has only made the situation worse for many brands.

The circuit breaker and the secure distancing measures put in place to ensure public health also led to a drop in footfall in physical stores.

In the first few months of 2020, Singapore has already seen a few closures, with stores moving online instead.

In late March, Hong Kong lifestyle retailer Kapok announced it was shutting down, switching to a fully online model.

Over the weekend, Singapore’s beloved local bookstore BooksActually and UK fashion label Topshop and Topman also announced the closure of their physical stores.

Books “completely transform” in online store

kenny leck actually pounds
Kenny Leck, owner and co-founder of BooksActually / Image credit: BooksActually via Facebook

BooksActually was founded 15 years ago in 2005 by Kenny Leck, then co-owner Karen Wai.

Its current location in Tiong Bahru is one that holds fond memories for many Singaporeans – with its mysterious book vending machine and three resident cats.

However, on September 13, the bookstore took to its social media to announce the closure of its only store in Tiong Bahru.

“As the world changes around us, the bookstore must also evolve in tandem,” Kenny said in another social media post.

He also assured fans that he plans to continue hosting literary events when possible and that the team at BooksActually is ready to make their online store a reality after spending the first half of the year online.

Topshop and last Topman store in Singapore closed

topshop topman closure
Image Credit: Singapore Atrium Sales via Facebook

On September 11, British fashion brands Topshop and Topman’s brand manager Wing Tai Retail confirmed the closure of its Vivocity outlet.

The Vivocity outlet, which is the last in Singapore, will be officially closed this Thursday, September 17.

Over the weekend, several “sale” signs were spotted at the store, which drew a winding line.

Topshop and Topman have been in Singapore since 2000, and moving out of Singapore will transition it to a fully online store.

A slate of permanent closures

Other notable Singapore stores that have left our shores permanently this year include fashion brand Esprit and sporting store chain Sportslink.

In addition to declining customers, rental and labor costs also remain a challenge for many operators.

Hence, many have to rely on online channels as an alternative to increase their sales.

Subsidies like the E-Commerce Booster Package administered by Enterprise Singapore are therefore useful for these stores.

The grant will cover 90% of the costs needed to set up operations on Amazon Singapore, Lazada Singapore, Qoo10 and Shopee.

Nanyang Polytechnic School of Business Management director Esther Ho told the Straits Times that going online would likely help brands reduce strain on resources due to the pandemic.

“The use of malls has taken a hit, so it is timely for businesses to try to increase their sales online, without simultaneously experiencing a drain of their resources in physical stores,” she said.

Featured Image Credit: Hype and Stuff, Weekender

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Jothi Venkat

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