With the recent launch of retail giant VivoCity at Harbourfront, Singapore’s shopping scene is heating up. But who’s the toughest kid on the shopping block?
THE HEEREN SHOPS vs FAR EAST PLAZA
THE HEEREN SHOPS
Stats: 102 lifestyle shops on six levels that target hip, fashion-conscious individuals.
Secret Weapon: The tenant mix—comprising giants like HMV, as well as an array of small but cool shops. Lovers of coffee culture can hang out at Spinelli and n.y.d.c., while The Annex is the perfect hangout for youths.
Form: Giving off an overwhelming air of always being at the forefront of anything shiny, new and funky, The Heeren continues to evolve, improve—and attract.
Address: 260 Orchard Rd., 6733-4725.
FAR EAST PLAZA
Stats: More than 500 shops on five levels.
Secret Weapon: The fact that it’s a treasure trove of cheap buys, quirky trinkets and cool shops; there’s always something new. From funky food outlets to streetwear to bookshops to toyshops, you’ll definitely find something fascinating here.
Form: Recently renovated and refloored, the newer, shinier Far East is doing as well, if not better, than before. It’s simply funky, offbeat and very street style.
Address: 14 Scotts Rd., 6235-2411.
WINNER – THE HEEREN SHOPS
This is still the place to be for cool youths and funky scenesters. The recently refurbished HMV also boasts a stronger DVD section, with more revamps happening for other outlets underway. It doesn’t help that Far East Plaza’s cooler tenants such as Surrender and Billie Jo have moved out too.
PALAIS RENAISSANCE vs THE PARAGON
Stats: 25 shops on 4 levels.
Secret Weapon: Its alluring mix of prestigious, classy boutiques that range from designer labels such as Prada, Vera Wang, The Link, Gianni Versace and DKNY. If you’ve got money to splash, this is heaven.
Form: Not a mall for the masses, but one that seems to be built with the tai-tai in mind. However, it still possesses the pull (and glam) factor for its die-hard fans.
Address: 390 Orchard Rd., 6737-6993.
Stats: 200 shops on one basement and six floors that offer a mind-boggling range of fashion, home décor, health and fitness and gourmet choices.
Secret Weapon: Its classy, up-market, exclusive image. It’s a haven where you can find all your top designer boutiques in one posh, air-conditioned establishment.
Form: Looks set to conquer more of the fashion pie after its refurbishment. Definitely a place for fashionistas who are into clothes, shoes, bags, makeup—the whole works.
Address: 290 Orchard Rd., 6738-5535.
WINNER – THE PARAGON
Fashionistas still swear by this place for upmarket labels Miu Miu, Prada, Valentino and G-Star. And eateries like Din Tai Fung and Project Shop Café are also a hit here.
SUNTEC CITY MALL vs PLAZA SINGAPURA
SUNTEC CITY MALL
Stats: 270 shops on four retail levels.
Secret Weapon: Its wholesome family appeal. From Carrefour to Eng Wah Cineplex, to fashion outlets like U2, G2000, Mango and Polo Jeans, you’ll find somewhere to shop no matter where your interests lie.
Form: A sprawling all-rounder (880,000 sq. ft.) that should continue to do well and enjoy a steady crowd of families, couples and teens.
Address: 3 Temasek Blvd., 6295-2888.
Stats: 202 shops on nine levels that center on food, fashion and entertainment.
Secret Weapon: Its mass appeal. A comprehensive range of tenants gives shoppers what they need in an unpretentious, mid-range environment. It’s also convenient to get to as it’s located near Dhoby Ghaut MRT—an interchange stop for the North East Line.
Form: Makes a convenient shopping stop for the busy shopper.
Address: 68 Orchard Rd., 6332-9298.
WINNER – SUNTEC CITY MALL
You can’t keep the crowds away from this place. Besides, Plaza Singapura pulls in too many bengs and lians.
WHEELOCK PLACE vs PACIFIC PLAZA
Stats: 47 trendy, mid to upmarket lifestyle shops on two basements and five floors.
Secret Weapon: Anchor tenant Borders that carries a wide selection books, movies, music and food all under one roof, plus the ever-hip and growing Apple@Orchard.
Form: An offbeat, but still interesting mall that provides a good range of retail alternatives from the conventional mall. Great for those who love books, movies, music and great food—with less crowds.
Address: 501 Orchard Rd., 6733-1188.
Stats: 24 shops on six levels.
Secret Weapon: An eclectic mix of shops, most of which focus on surfer (Rip Curl, Quiksilver) and streetwear (Adidas, Roxy, Stussy) culture. Also houses the two-story That CD Shop—which throws up a sleek, quirky alternative from other conventional CD stores.
Form: A bit lackluster, but still enjoys a niche, underground following made up of firm fans of specific tenants.
Address: 9 Scotts Rd., 6733-5655.
WINNER – WHEELOCK PLACE
Pacific Plaza is still struggling to bring in the numbers. Wheelock Place, on the other hand, is keeping ’em coming back with cool music, books and plenty to eat.
NGEE ANN CITY vs WISMA ATRIA
NGEE ANN CITY
Stats: More than 160 shops on seven levels.
Secret Weapon: A killer tenant mix that boasts Takashimaya Department Store, Kinokuniya, Best Denki, Food Village and Crystal Jade, among many others. Is directly linked to Orchard MRT station and enjoys the capacity to host indoor and outdoor activities.
Form: Widely regarded as Singapore’s retail icon, and even won the Best Shopping Experience Award (1999 to 2004) conferred by the Singapore Tourism Board.
Address: 391 Orchard Rd., 6739-9323.
Stats: 94 shops on five levels.
Secret Weapon: Has top-of-the-mind recall to shoppers because of its distinctive blue façade and in-house aquarium. Also has a nice blend of local and international fashion brands. The five-level Isetan department store is an added draw, along with UK’s Topshop.
Form: Since its relaunch in 2004, Wisma Atria has expanded and improved its tenant mix and should have no problem maintaining its status as one of Orchard Road’s best draws.
Address: 435 Orchard Rd., 6235-8177.
WINNER – NGEE ANN CITY
Wisma Atria may be hot on its tail, but Ngee Ann City is still the biggie to be reckoned with.
CATHAY CINELEISURE ORCHARD vs SHAW HOUSE
CATHAY CINELEISURE ORCHARD
Stats: 68 shops on 10 levels.
Secret Weapon: A one-stop entertainment center for youths and movie lovers. It combines great shopping, movie watching and youth-related activities to garner a foothold in the competitive shopping landscape.
Form: Excellent. Its ability to get together a vibrant and entertaining tenant mix has assured that youths continue to flock there.
Address: 8 Grange Rd., 6733-5969.
Stats: 13 shops on the podium level of the mall.
Secret Weapon: The biggest two anchor tenants—Isetan (occupying B1 to 4th floor) and Lido Cineplex (5th to 7th floor). There are plenty of food and shopping choices here, and the multi-level Isetan Scotts as well as Isetan supermarket are very popular.
Form: Its strong Japanese tenant mix has established it firmly in the consciousness of Japanese and locals alike.
Address: 350 Orchard Rd., 6235-2077.
WINNER – CATHAY CINELEISURE ORCHARD
Youths love to throng to this lively mall, especially after hours. This is also the only place to watch movies till the wee hours of the morning during weekends.
BUGIS JUNCTION vs GREAT WORLD CITY
Stats: 220 specialty shops, F&B joints and entertainment outlets.
Secret Weapon: Shaw Bugis Cineplex, Kinokuniya and the shopping enclave The Edge—made up of a maze of shops selling everything from hip bags, cool threads and funky accessories to the cutest ornaments.
Form: Doing pretty well, judging from how packed it is on weekends. Easily accessible via Bugis MRT station.
Address: 200 Victoria St., 6557-6557.
GREAT WORLD CITY
Stats: 400,000 sq. ft. of shopping space that houses a wide variety of shops, including over 20 F&B joints.
Secret Weapon: GV Grand, along with its GV Citibank Gold Class Theatre. Plus, it’s a great shopping choice for shoppers who want that shopping rush but hate the crowds.
Form: Even if it’s been around for close to nine years, this is a mall that’s off the beaten track but still gives pretty good mileage.
Address: 1 Kim Seng Promenade, 6737-3855.
WINNER – GREAT WORLD CITY
Growing from strength to strength, this is the pick for those staying around the area. Shops such as LifeStorey plus new tenants like Archangel are ultra hot, too.
MARINA SQUARE vs FORUM THE SHOPPING MALL
Stats: 700,000 sq. ft. of lettable space, with more than 300 outlets under its roof.
Secret Weapon: Established top fashion outlets such as ZARA, Mango and Topshop, as well as a number of smaller shops offering an even wider array of fashion choices.
Form: More stylish, especially after its refurbishment. Looks bigger, brighter and better. Easy to get to after the establishment of 1 Raffles Link. It’s also within walking distance of City Hall MRT station.
Address: 6 Raffles Blvd., 6339-8787.
FORUM THE SHOPPING MALL
Stats: A family and fashion-oriented mall that sees Blackjack, Tribecca, Club 21 Kids and Giorgio Armani holding fort, along with 60-plus other tenants.
Secret Weapon: Chi-chi big fashion names and a relaxed atmosphere.
Form: Not a mall that comes immediately to mind when one is in town, but leftfield fashionistas love this place.
Address: 583 Orchard Rd., 6732-2479.
WINNER – FORUM THE SHOPPING MALL
Marina Square is a still trying to establish itself as a shopping mall, while the cooler-than-thou brands at Forum makes it the frontrunner for the fashion conscious.
The Heeren Shops vs Cathay Cineleisure Orchard
Winner – The Heeren Shops
The lack of a commanding anchor tenant at Cathay Cineleisure Orchard proves to be its downfall.
Wheelock Place vs Great World City
Winner – Wheelock Place
A tough one, but we love Borders and the cool eateries at Wheelock Place too much to pass it up.
Forum The Shopping Mall vs The Paragon
Winner – The Paragon
The Paragon’s prime location at the heart of Orchard Road earns it a bonus point. Besides, well-heeled tai-tais and the beautiful crowd prefer to shop here.
Ngee Ann City vs Suntec City
Winner – Ngee Ann City
No doubt about it, Ngee Ann is sleeker and better than the family-oriented Suntec.
The Heeren Shops vs Wheelock Place
Winner – The Heeren Shops
Location aside, The Heeren is also more inviting than Wheelock Place. The latest music coming from HMV also draws the masses in.
The Paragon vs Ngee Ann City
Winner – Ngee Ann City
While Paragon may be newer, the shop tenants at Ngee Ann are more balanced—providing something just about for everyone. Not everyone can afford Prada, y’know?
The Heeren Shops vs Ngee Ann City
WINNER – NGEE ANN CITY
The young at heart and trendy prefer The Heeren, but Ngee Ann City is still the second home (when it comes to shopping) for many Singaporeans. This is the only place where you can find Fendi, Guess, Burberry, KFC, Kinokuniya and Takashimaya under one roof. Don’t believe us? Ask just about anyone.
List of the best of heartland malls
We asked, ” What Makes a Great Mall?” Find out at pg.2.
What Makes a Great Mall?
“I’m first drawn by how a mall looks—the attractive lights, modern aesthetics and fun décor. Once I step inside the shopping centre, I expect the mall directory to be easy to locate—listing all the potential stores I could walk into to makes my day even better. Knowledgeable sales people are always a big plus in my book. I want to know what I’m buying, putting on my face or carrying around under my arm. Having all my favorite brands under one roof makes my heart skip a few beats every time. I look forward to discovering one-of-a-kind pieces, and interesting brands which can’t be found in every mall. And when it’s time to rest those ankles, I love sinking into a comfortable chair within arm’s reach, and having a leisurely conversation with friends over a cuppa and cake, away from the heat, the noisy streets and sweaty crowds. Very importantly, the ladies bathroom has to be clean and pleasant-smelling. It’s where we refresh ourselves, touch up on our makeup, rearrange our hair, and re-style our outfits. Of course, when it’s time to return home, an accessible cab stand is always welcome.”—Jill Sara, PR Consultant
“Personally, I prefer a small, compact mall that comes with a few right shops, and is easy to navigate around. It must also have a good combination of fashion, music, electronics, and F&B outlets, and close late as my working lifestyle only allows me to shop at later hours. I really cannot stand those mega, huge malls that take forever to walk from one end to the other, as there are too many shops to browse through. I am most unlikely to go shopping at such malls, not to mention, buying anything from them.”—Douglas Kee, Event Organizer
“A good shopping mall should be spacious and well-designed for easy access from one area to the another. There should be easy-to-find directory boards and clear directions given on the signage. In terms of retailers, there should be a good mix of tenants to cater to the different needs of shoppers (fashion, beauty, home, arts, entertainment, F&B, specialty shops and IT). Good customer service is also a must with staff knowing their products and able to provide advice or recommendations. Ample parking with reasonable parking charges for drivers and more taxi stands for non-drivers is also important. And restrooms need to be clean, dry and regularly maintained. The malls here could also be more user-friendly for the elderly or disabled, for instance, more seats and ramps for wheel chairs. Interesting and creative window displays, exciting promotions and events and bigger outdoor areas or al fresco style areas are always good. “—Jansen Siak, PR Director
“I wish we had a shopping mall that opened till midnight or later during the weekend and more variety in the styles of fashion that is being brought in. In Singapore, all the shopping malls carry the same brands, which makes the whole shopping experience very boring. All the malls here carry Levi’s, Esprit, U2, G2000 and GG<5. If the shopping malls could bring in some other brands like Bettina Liano and Satch from Australia,
it would be great. Besides that, more variety of unique cafes is also important so that shoppers can rest and relax after long hours of shopping.”—Yohanna Laurus, Avid Shopper