Retailers billed it as the Great Singapore Sale. Chinese tourist Zhu Liang bought it, only to regret afterward.
“We will never come here again to shop on purpose,” said Zhu, a 35-year-old businessman from Hangzhou. Visiting the city during the final days of the summer sale season in July, he purchased a Loewe handbag for his wife, only to discover he could have paid less in Hong Kong.
Behind the mark-up: a strengthening exchange rate, rising labor costs and a sales tax Chinese tourists don’t encounter in neighboring Hong Kong. A reduction in visitors from Asia’s largest economy contributed to a sales slide of as much as 4 percent in Singapore’s annual shopping festival, according to the retailers’ association.
Visitors from China to Singapore dropped 27 percent in the five months through May from a year earlier amid slower economic growth on the mainland and the impact of a new Chinese law that clamped down on cut-price shopping tours. Total tourist arrivals slid 1.7 percent, according to the Singapore Tourism Board.