At the start of the “circuit breaker”, most retailers were hit immediately, as the non-essential businesses were forced to close temporarily. Business was not as usual, but all their running costs were.

It took the government a while to respond and give retailers rebates and grants to help offset costs for rental, manpower and the rush to digitalise. Unfortunately, that was not enough to help many tide through the rough period. In September, retail business closures in Singapore reached a 10-month high, with 457 companies calling it quits, according to data from the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority. Retailers, especially the smaller companies that relied heavily on their bricks-and-mortar stores, needed more help than just rebates.

With most of the retail stores located in malls, some landlords have stepped up to help their tenants. For example, apart from passing down rental rebates, CapitaLand has created online platforms eCapitaMall and Capita3Eats to help its tenants go online and generate online sales. Chris Chong, managing director, retail, CapitaLand Singapore, calls such platforms the next “evolution” to drive more bricks and click sales for the retailers. Launched in July this year, the two platforms have already signed more than 400 online merchants.

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