During the official opening ceremony of Singapore's newest, biggest mall, the Jewel at Changi Airport back in October 2019, PM Lee refuted claims by Singaporeans and visitors alike that Jewel gives a sense of coldness and being an impersonal structure. Instead, he said quite confidently that Jewel is now the "Symbol of Bold Dreams".
And now, just four months on from that declaration, reports in the national papers stated that retail sales at Jewel are not sparkling, despite the large crowd that gathers there most days. In fact, the whole narrative of the Jewel can be summed up by this couple of paragraphs in the Straits Times itself:
"Jewel Changi Airport may often be crowded but this has not translated into strong sales for all tenants. Nine months after the opening of the 10-storey development, which boasts more than 280 shops and food and beverage outlets, some retailers say business has been slow."
So, PM Lee's symbol of bold dreams is just a nightmare for retailers who has set up shop there. Only nine months on from the opening of Jewel, they have reported dipping sales, even amongst the F&B outlets, which was overcrowded with long snaking queues in the first few weeks of the opening. Experts said this was to be expected, as the initial curiosity about the new mall dies down. But to have dipping sales, even when the crowd are still flocking to the Jewel?
It does seem like another failed project from the very people who are tasked with making Singapore successful. PM Lee and his bevy of civil servants will point to the thousands who still flock to Jewel everyday, but if this thousands of people do not spend their cash there, it is as good as a failure. After all, what good is a crowd if all they do is just take photos to be posted on their social media accounts, but keep their wallets firmly locked in their pocket.