Enjoying Singapore: Shopping In Singapore
Shopping In Singapore

Opening times

Most stores and shopping centres are open every day from 10 am to 9 pm. During festive seasons, shopping is extended to 11 pm or midnight. Some stores will close on certain public holidays, and on a couple of days a year for annual functions or stock-taking.

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Prices and bargains

Fixed prices and price-tagging are the rule at many department stores and retail outlets. Compare prices before buying.
Bargaining is a fast-disappearing way of life. But if you do came across shops that are open to bargaining--start by asking the retailer for his "best price", then make a realistic counter-offer. Be prepared for some to-and-fro before settling on a price that both you and the retailer are happy with.
Always check the goods, especially electrical and electronic gadgets. It’s good sense to leave a deposit in some instances (e.g. tailoring and photo development), and pay in full when you have checked and are satisfied with the results.
If you like, check the local papers for a rough indication of the prices to expect.

Credit / Charge cards

Almost all major shopping centres and shops accept the major credit cards at NO additional surcharge, so don't let anyone fool you into paying extra for using plastic.

Money Changers

Use money changers labelled "Licensed Money Changer", found in abundance along Orchard Road and at most big shopping centres. You may also change your money at any bank, but the rates are not as preferable.


"Sale" is one of the most overused words on the Singapore shopping scene. Youmay come across "pre-festival" sales, "post-festival" sales, and "closing-down" sales that seem to go on forever. Then there is the "Great Singapore Sale", which is on from June to July each year, where almost all the shops will stick their necks out to offer their best bargains. Incidentally, the Great Singapore Sale coincides with the annual Singapore Food Festival, when true-blue Singaporeans can feast to their hearts' content and shop till they drop.


For certain transactions, it may be wise to leave a deposit and only pay the full sum when the product is finished and is to your satisfaction. An example would be tailor-made suits or clothes.

Goods and Services Tax (GST)

A 3 per cent Goods and Services Tax (GST) is levied on almost all goods and services. Note that the GST applies only to GST-registered traders. Look for the certificate of registration that is usually near the checkout counter. Some retailers will absorb the GST, and most of the smaller shops do not collect GST.
The GST will be refunded if you spend more than S$300 (receipts of S$100 or more can be pooled from shops displaying the Tax Free Shopping sticker). To qualify, just ask for your Tax Free Shopping Cheque when you make your purchases at the store, and before you leave the country, remember to present all your Tax Free Shopping Cheques (both blue and yellow copies) and your passport to Customs, together with the goods you purchased. Your Tax Free Shopping Cheques will then be stamped and they can then be cashed at Cash Refund counters located at Changi Airport. However, if you prefer, just mail your stamped Tax Free Shopping Cheques and you will receive your refund in the form of a direct transfer to your credit card account or a bank cheque. A small handling fee will be deducted from the GST amount.

Exchanges and refunds

Most of the bigger retailers will exchange goods if they are intact and if you return them within a few days (usually 3) with the receipt. Some smaller shops may not be so accommodating, so always check the goods carefully before buying. Refunds are less common. Some retailers (such as casual clothing store Giordano) offer a money-back guarantee, no questions asked. Others (at some point in their promotion efforts) will offer a refund if you can find the same item for less elsewhere.


Most major stores offer delivery services if you spend more than a certain amount or if you're willing to pay a delivery surcharge. Some shops offer the option of an All Risk insurance policy which will cover the good for damage or loss in transit.

Bringing items home

All weapons, including swords and knives you bought as souvenirs, require an export permit issued by the Singapore Arms and Explosives Branch (Tel: 6734-4163).

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