Shopping Tips

Before hitting the stores, equip yourself with information on local practices and conditions. Make notes of the shopping tips provided below and check with your hotel concierge or visit any Singapore Visitor Centre for assistance, upon arrival.

Shopping Hours

A good number of department stores and some smaller shops are open daily from 10am to about 9pm, or even 10pm. Singapore is one of the few countries in the world where you feel safe staying out in the streets till late at night. As long as basic precautions are taken, you can have peace of mind to shop and walk around.
Mustafa Centre in Little India is the only department store in Singapore that is open 24 hours, everyday!

Prices and Bargains

The local newspapers will give you a fair idea of prices to expect and information on current sales and promotions. You might also wish to take time to browse and compare prices before purchasing
In department stores, all items price-tagged and prices are fixed. Many small retailers also practise price tagging but are often flexible when approached for a discount. Ask the retailer for his "best price" and then counter-offer with realistic prices until both of you reach an agreement.

Credit/Charge Cards

Almost all stores accept major international credit and charge cards. Should you come across a shop insisting on adding a surcharge, do contact the local office of the card company so that corrective action can be taken.

Money

Banks throughout Singapore generally operate from 9.30am to 3.30pm, from Mondays to Fridays, and from 9.30am to 11.30am on Saturdays for travellers' cheques transactions of and other financial matters. For greater convenience, Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) that are conveniently located at banks and most shopping centres are open round-the-clock. Keep a lookout for these machines displaying Plus and Cirrus signs.

You can exchange currency at all banks, hotels, and wherever the sign "Licensed Money Changer" is displayed.

Receipts and Return Policies

All department stores and smaller retail shops provide either cash slips or receipts upon purchase. Feel free to ask should they omit giving you one and be sure that details shown on the receipt are accurate.
Larger shops and department stores will exchange goods if they are returned in good, original condition. However, returns are accepted only within a specified number of days (usually three) from the purchase date, and upon presentation of the receipt. Smaller shops may not be so accommodating, so always check goods carefully before purchasing. You may also want to check out the shop's return policy before making a purchase.
If you're undecided about a purchase in a department store and would like a bit of time to consider, just ask the sales assistant to put it aside for you. The item can usually be reserved for a maximum of three days.

Goods and Services Tax (GST)

A 5% GST is levied in Singapore.
Under the Global Refund GST Scheme, visit any store that displays the "TAX FREE SHOPPING" logo and follow these simple steps: -

  1. Spend a minimum of SGD 300 at a single participating shop or at least SGD 100 at each different participating shops to accumulate a total purchase of SGD 300
  2. Present your passport to the retailer to obtain a completed Global Refund Cheque
  3. Get the cheques validated at the Customs of Changi Airport Terminal 1 or 2 as proof of export. The goods purchased, along with the receipts, must be presented for verification.
  4. Claim your GST refund in the form of cash, credit card, bank cheques or airport shopping vouchers at Global Refund counters in the airport. A small handling fee will be deducted from the GST amount due to you.

The minimum purchase amount to qualify for a refund ranges between SGD 300 and SGD 500. More details may be obtained from the Global Refund counters located at both terminals of the Changi Airport.
You may also visit Global Refund's GST cash refund counter located at level 2 of Scotts Shopping Centre. The counter is open from 11am to 8pm daily.
Retailers that are not affiliates of the Global Refund scheme administer their own GST refund schemes. You are advised to check with these retailers on the minimum purchase amount to qualify for GST refund, as it varies from retailer to retailer.

Warranty

Check that the warranty card for your purchase bears the correct details of the product purchased and is endorsed with the retailer's stamp. International warranties can be obtained for many goods, usually for a 12-month period, but some products are not accompanied by warranties and these are usually sold at a lower price. Some international warranties have limitations, and may not be applicable to certain countries.
Most shops will comply with your requests for guarantee statements, but if one is not forthcoming, it may be best to simply shop elsewhere.

Delivery

Many larger stores will oblige by shipping your purchases to your home. To ensure timely delivery, do request for a written confirmation of your instructions. The retailer would be to your advantage for your purchase to be covered for damage in transit and loss by buying an All Risk insurance which the shop can arrange for you. Also, contact your national diplomatic representative to check the latest customs regulations of your country.
If you are sending purchases home by post, check with the Singapore Post for information on requirements and regulations for air and sea delivery. Post offices are generally open from 8.30am to 5pm on weekdays, and 8.30am to 1pm on Saturdays while certain branches have extended opening hours. Some hotels provide a parcel wrapping service.

Export Permits

All weapons (even swords and kris bought as souvenirs) must be accompanied by export permits issued by the Singapore Arms and Explosives Branch at 391, New Bridge Road, #02-701, Police Cantonment Complex, Singapore 088762, Tel: (65) 6557 5822. Singapore and many other countries place restrictions on items from endangered species such as ivory and skins. If in doubt, check with your national diplomatic representative whether a permit is required before you bring an item into your home country.

CaseTrust

CaseTrust is an accreditation programme, developed by the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE), which recognises good business practices among store-based and web-based business establishments.

Visit www.case.org.sg for a list of CaseTrust members.

Errant Retailers

As in other countries, be wary of touts with offers of free shopping tours, special discounts or pirated goods. Visitors who encounter less than satisfactory retailer practices can contact the Singapore Tourism Board (Customer Information & Service Dept) located at Tourism Court, 1 Orchard Spring Lane, Singapore 247729, Tel: 1800 736 3366 (toll-free in Singapore), Fax: (65) 6734 7226, or email feed...@stb.com.sg. If visitors wish to receive some form of redress within 24 hours (depending on the complexity of the claim), you can also lodge your claim directly with the Small Claims Tribunals (SCT) at: 2 Havelock Road, #05-00 Apollo Centre, Singapore 059763. An administrative fee of S$10 is payable to the SCT.

Branches of the Small Claims Tribunals are located at:
Apollo Centre #05-00, 2 Havelock Road, Singapore 059763.
Tel: (65) 6435 5946 / (65) 6435 5938, Fax: (65) 6435 5994.
Opening hours:
8.30am to 1pm and 2pm to 5.30pm, Monday to Friday
8.30am to 1pm, Saturday

Block 342 Ang Mo Kio Ave 1 #03-1461/1561A, Singapore 560342
Tel: (65) 6553 5385.
Opening hours:
2pm to 5pm and 6pm to 9pm, Monday to Friday
9am to 1pm, Saturday

Alternatively, you may lodge a claim against the retailer with the E@DR Centre of the Subordinate courts. The E@DR Centre offers a free on-line dispute resolution service. The mediation of the dispute will be conducted via email, which allows visitors to proceed with their visit without any or minimum interference to their schedule, as their physical presence is not required. Visitors can also file a claim with the Centre using email anytime during their travels or after they have returned home.

All claims filed with the Centre are confidential. Both parties to the dispute must have an email account and must consent to the matter being e-mediated by the Centre.

Convenient Underpasses and Covered Walkways

Our tropical weather might catch you unprepared for sudden thundershowers, especially during the monsoon months of November and December. However, Singapore is well equipped with underpasses and covered walkways that link one shopping complex to another. From Orchard Road MRT Station, for instance, underpasses alone can lead shoppers to as many as 6 shopping centres!

More Tips

If you are having clothes tailor-made, establish a clear understanding about payment. It is wise to just leave a deposit when ordering, with full payment following only after you have inspected the completed garment for workmanship and fit.

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