Singapore’s Metro departmental store occupying the second level of Compass Point will be closing down after 12 years of operations at the Sengkang mall due to the “challenging retail scene”. The Metro Compass Point lease will be allowed to expire without a renewal in August and the mall has not found a new tenant yet.

Photo by Metro Compass Point
Photo by Metro Compass Point

The construction boom ending in 2014 created an influx of new retail malls across Singapore, which left many shopping centres finding it increasingly difficult to fill empty retail spaces with tenants. According to the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), Singapore’s retail vacancy rate has been hovering around 6% for the whole of 2014.

Graph by URA
Graph by URA

Retail shops in Singapore also face a manpower crunch because of the low salary range at S$1,500 and long working hours (8 hour work shift over 6 days) – working out to be S$7.81 per hour. Singapore employers are not able to pay well partly because retail space rental is still rising. Below is a screenshot of a typical retail job from JobsDB.com:

Screenshot from JobsDB
Screenshot from JobsDB

Due to the low pay and long working hours, Singapore retail employers are not able to hire Singaporeans. This contrasts greatly with the retail jobs in Sydney Australia, which is in high demand and very popular by even Australian citizens. Retail staffs are protected by the Minimum Wage law of a mandatory AUD$18.50 and a maximum working hours of 8 hour work shift over 5 days.