Christmas on A Great Street will be returning for its eight consecutive year next month, and despite concerns about the sluggish economy, the Orchard Road Business Association (ORBA) is hopeful that the annual Christmas lights event will attract shoppers.“
I think it’s safe to recognise that the global economy is a little slow right now and obviously retail in general is having a tough time,” said Mark Shaw, chairman of ORBA.
“However the purpose of the Orchard Road light-up isn’t just to drive spending. It’s also to bring the Christmas spirit to Orchard Road. We always feel that it is a very important tourism event, attracting visitors to Singapore, as well as for locals. So I think in terms of the Orchard Road retail scene, we hope that these events will bring visitors to Orchard Road, and we hope they spend on retail, food and beverage or anything else.”
Shaw was speaking at the Christmas On A Great Street media conference on Thursday (Oct 27), where members of the press were given a preview of this year’s Christmas lights at Orchard Road. He added that last year’s Christmas light-up attracted 5.8 million visitors, and thatorganisers hope to attract at least the same number this year.
Under the theme Spread The Joy, the whole of Orchard Road, spanning 2.88km from Tanglin Mall to Plaza Singapura, will be decorated and feature seven set pieces, such as glowing reindeer in different colours, a 12m-tall arch, and interactive set pieces such as glowing Christmas trees and a dome of stars.
Christmas activities and performances, such as a Christmas market and Christmas caroling, have also be planned for the festive season.
This year’s official light-up ceremony will be held at Ngee Ann City Civic Plaza on Saturday, Nov 12, and will be officiated by President Tony Tan Keng Yam. The stretch between Scotts Road and Bideford Road will also be closed to vehicles on that day from 3pm to 11pm, to allow visitors to fully bask in the festive atmosphere.
“Whenever you transform a street from what it looks like the rest of the year to something completely different, people always want to come and have a look, and it does feel festive, I think it’s what brings people here year after year — it’s the festive feeling,” said Shaw.
He added: “The set pieces are really important. Especially with social media, people just want to have the experience and ... I think it’s what brings people to Orchard Road.”
Asked whether Orchard Road is feeling threatened by the rise of suburban malls, Shaw said Orchard Road “will always be here”.
“Orchard Road is still the primary place for flagship stores to open — we are anticipating the opening for Victoria’s Secret and hopefully the Apple Store soon,” he pointed out.
“As with every city centre shopping precinct, we will always be the first choice for big brands to open their flagship stores. We are developing more into a lifestyle precinct as well, and I think that’s something that suburban precinct cannot offer.”
He added: “When you are going to a suburban mall you are really going there primarily to shop and watch a movie, maybe have dinner. But out here we hope to give our shoppers something a little different, hence a Christmas light-up (and) Fashion Steps Out. We really hope that these events also bring people down to Orchard Road because it’s something you don’t get out in the suburbs.
“Here we have 2.88km of malls, all with different offerings, all with different positioning as well. That’s something a suburban mall cannot offer. We hope people will still come down to Orchard Road and this will be their choice for a night out or proper entertainment.”