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Survey: About half of Singapore businesses generate more sales in Sept-Oct during COVID-19, but survivability concerns persist into 2021

 American Express brings Shop Small to Singapore with the largest offer to encourage residents to support local businesses during COVID-19 recovery

Singapore, November 23, 2020 – Almost half of Singapore businesses reported improved sales in September and October 2020 compared to the same period a year ago, according to the first American Express Business Recovery Research for Singapore. However, survivability concerns remain, with more than half the 300 local business decisionmakers surveyed saying their business cannot stay open for more than six months if sales do not recover to pre-COVID levels by end December 2020.

One in two cite that having regular customers encourage their friends and family to shop at their establishment, as well as having new customers is be crucial to the recovery of their businesses. In addition, 90% of those surveyed said their business sustainability is likely to be severely to moderately impacted if tourists do not return by mid-2021. As such, many of them need support from local shoppers to survive in the medium to long term in the absence of tourist spending.

To give local businesses a boost, American Express is bringing its global Shop Small movement to Singapore to encourage shoppers to show their love for local businesses. American Express will fund its largest cashback offer to encourage its Card Members to spend at about 2,000 businesses in Singapore. Starting 1 December 2020, Card Members will enjoy S$5 in cashback when they spend at least S$10 at participating businesses, up to three times[1].

Ho Yat-Wai, Country Manager, American Express Singapore, said: “Our local businesses have shown tremendous resilience and agility during this challenging time, but our research shows many aren’t confident of their long-term survival.

“We need to do our part to shop small and shop local to help them get through this period and eventually thrive again. Shop Small is American Express’ way of showing up for our community by raising the profile our local businesses and connecting them with our Card Members. I hope everyone joins us to support our local businesses.”


The American Express Business Recovery Research for Singapore shows that over half the businesses surveyed shifted to e-commerce (59%) and set up delivery and/or pick-up options (54%) to remain open during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of the changes made to their business models are expected to continue beyond the pandemic; the top three are communicating to customers via social media (83%), providing digital and/or delivery options (81%) and accepting more payment types (80%).

Featured in the Shop Small social media campaign is Ana Fong, General Manager, Tong Heng: “One of the main challenges for Tong Heng, as a traditional small business, was to evolve and adapt to stay relevant. Adopting a digital strategy and rebranding to cater to the inclusion of younger customers two years ago can attest to this when the pandemic hit. During circuit breaker, we had to cease operations for three weeks. We were lucky to have adopted digital solutions way before and could keep our customers up to date.”

Participating in Shop Small are Creative Eateries restaurants. CEO, Anthony Wong said: "With tourism affected by the pandemic, we appreciate and encourage locals to rediscover Singapore. We have reinvented and introduced several new offerings at our Clarke Quay restaurants such as Fremantle Seafood Market to cater to local preferences. We are also working with partners to create new exciting experiences and services for our diners.”

Another participating business is Aspial, which owns homegrown brands like Lee Hwa Jewellery and Goldheart Jewelry. Kean Ng, Senior Director of Aspial said: “After circuit breaker, we are seeing more enthusiastic shoppers visiting our stores compared to pre-COVID times. We are heartened by their support; so we hope Shop Small will help encourage more residents to support local businesses like ours.”


Started in 2010 in the US, American Express’ Shop Small is a national movement to celebrate the contributions local businesses make to their communities and the economy, and to encourage shoppers to support them.

In Singapore, Shop Small complements the SingapoRediscovers campaign launched by Singapore Tourism Board, Enterprise Singapore and Sentosa Development Corporation in July 2020. SingapoRediscovers encourages locals to support home-grown tourism and lifestyle businesses, through the rediscovery of hidden gems and experiences as well as attractive promotions.

Participating Shop Small businesses can be found at 11 CapitaLand Malls and selected precincts such as Kampong Glam, Telok Ayer and Tiong Bahru.

Chris Chong, Managing Director, Retail, CapitaLand Singapore, said: “As part of CapitaLand’s commitment to help retailers and their communities adapt to the new normal, we are focused on creating engaging experiences and attractive promotions that will delight shoppers both online and offline. We are pleased to be part of the Shop Small initiative, providing more opportunities to engage our shoppers while driving sales and footfall to our partners in our retail ecosystem.”


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