Shopping in Singapore

Sandy only stopped to use the rest room

It seems like everywhere you go in Singapore there are shopping malls. Shopping is definitely a big thing here. There are the standard jokes. That shopping is the national sport of Singapore. Or that Singapore is the only shopping mall that belongs to the UN. But all kidding aside, there ARE stores everywhere. And they all seem to be crowded. Shopping is definitely a major activity here in Singapore.

You can find just about anything you want here. Since Singapore is the largest port in the world and is at the crossroads (if you can use that metaphor in a maritime sense) of Europe, Asia and North America, just about every kind of good goes through Singapore. It might be the most international city in the world.

Orchard Road is definitely the center for high end shopping. Just within four blocks of our house you can find every designer shop that you could possibly think of: Cartier, Armani, Louis Vutton, Polo, Burberry - and sometimes more than one store. Singapore is certainly not lacking for high end shopping. But we don't go in for that too much. We have found that although you can find just about anything here, the higher end shops tend to be more expensive in Singapore than in other countries. Not sure why that is since the sales tax/import tax isn't that high. Maybe it is just the cost to get stuff here. Or maybe the cost of retail space is just really high here. (Although I have read that the most expensive retail space in the world is along the Champs Ellysee in Paris.) Fortunately I don't like Armani tshirts that much anyway.

A great place to shop for the family jewels

The other problem we run into when shopping is "big sizes". Asians typically tend to be smaller people than North Americans or Europeans, so stores tend to carry smaller sizes. Given the number of international travelers I would have thought they would carry sizes for them as well but they don't seem to do that. Clothes are tough. Shoes are really tough. My wife, the shoe shopper, tortured herself for the entire first year we were here. We would go by the expansive shoe department (that's not a typo - although it is expensive too) in Takashimaya and she would always stop. She would find lots of cool shoes but when she asked to try them on, they would always come back with "Sorry, no big sizes". Finally she gave up. Now she just buys shoes when she goes back to the US. And I really have trouble when I ask about XL sizes when I am clothes shopping. "I think maybe mister need extra, extra large!" Forget it. I'll get my clothes when I go back to the US. It's not like I need much here.

No way am I buying anything from that store

But there are a lot of fun places to shop. There are great bookstores here and I spend way too much time in them. It is a lot of fun to shop for computer equipement and software - that will be worth a whole post in itself. And shopping in small shops out of the way can be a lot of fun and can yield some really good deals. Sandy has gotten a lot of clothes that have an Asian style that she wears either for work or leisure that are really nice. I have found a few Asian-styled clothes as well that were quite reasonably priced. My favorite time was when I was out shopping with Dan (brother-in-law) in Chinatown during his visit. We ran into quite the salesman. Since Dan was debating getting an item I told the shopkeeper that since he was visiting he should get a vistor discount. The salesman agreed, dropped the price, and so Dan bought the item. Then I was looking at something. So I told him I was a local and should get the local discount. He agreed, dropped the price, so I got my item as well. We liked our stuff but something seemed fishy. But the bottom line was we had a lot of fun shopping in the small places, even if the shopkeepers can run rings around you when you try to bargain.

And of course, you occasionally run into shops or signs or displays where the English is "not quite right". I have shared a few of these in the photos with this post.

More on shopping in Singapore another time.