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Thread: Night owls want shops and eateries to close later but manpower crunch is a deterrent

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    Default Night owls want shops and eateries to close later but manpower crunch is a deterrent

    [url]http://www.straitstimes.com/News/Home/Story/STIStory_631840.html[/url]

    Feb 6, 2011

    [B][SIZE="5"]Sleepless in Singapore[/SIZE][/B]

    [B]Night owls want shops and eateries to close later but manpower crunch is a deterrent[/B]

    By Jeremy Au Yong


    There is nothing to do at night - this phrase is becoming an increasingly common lament among Singapore's night owls.

    With people now working later and sleeping later, some are beginning to ask if businesses here should push back their bedtimes as well.

    A recent Sunday Times street poll of 100 shoppers found a large majority are largely dissatisfied with current business hours.

    A total of 81 people said they want shops to stay open later or even 24 hours.

    At the moment, anyone seeking retail therapy in Singapore will find precious little relief after 10pm. Most shops pull down the shutters by 9.30pm, with some calling it a night even earlier.

    Many good restaurants take last orders at 10pm, while museums and exhibitions tend to call it a day at sunset. The recently concluded Art Stage exhibition closed its doors at 5pm on its last day.

    For consumers, it means limited entertainment options for those out late. When coupled with jobs that have them working until 10pm every day, it can be a challenge getting in a bit of leisure during the week.

    Recruitment consultant Julia Lim, 27, said: 'We work late most of the time, so when we meet up there is nowhere to go.'

    Bank worker Ravi Kumar, 29, said he has occasionally found himself put off by service staff closing a shop when he is inside it. 'Sometimes I can be shopping, but the shop is closing, so I end up not buying anything.'

    This demand for late activities is largely fuelled by a growing night owl culture in Singapore. An increasing number of people do not eat dinner until 9pm, and the majority go to bed after midnight.

    Ms Lim and Mr Ravi are just two of the 68 people polled who said they sleep after midnight all the time, even on weekdays.

    While night owls are generally in their 30s or younger, a significant number in their 50s and 60s are also burning the midnight oil.

    Mr Mohamed Mokhtar Mohamed Amin, 59, who works in the printing industry, said he goes to sleep after 2am every day.

    He added that he would go to shops that stay open late.

    'Any establishment that is service-oriented, like a supermarket or a clinic, should close later,' he said.

    This shift in demand has already prompted some shops to extend their business hours.

    Numerous eateries now stay open well after midnight.

    The Xin Wang chain of cafes said it does brisk business after midnight, especially with younger diners. Its cafes close at 3am on weekdays and 4am on weekends.

    FairPrice, the chain of super-markets and department stores, opened its first 24-hour super-market in 2008. When that worked, it began doing the same with other outlets, and now more than 25 of its stores stay open around the clock. Several others, like the FairPrice outlet in Ang Mo Kio Hub, close at 11pm every day.

    Mr Gerry Lee, FairPrice managing director (business groups), said it will keep more supermarkets open for 24 hours where feasible.

    Retailers at Marina Bay Sands also want to accommodate the late night shopper. They close at 11pm on weekdays and midnight on weekends.

    There are also businesses which have experimented with staying open later on weekends and during festive seasons.

    Tangs Orchard tried extending its opening hours in 2007, and now it stays open until 11pm every Friday. It also extends opening hours during sales events and festive seasons.

    At Resorts World Sentosa, shops in The Galleria stayed open until midnight on weekends in December.

    Overall, most of the shops which have tried staying open late have had positive experiences, although these tend to be larger businesses.

    Even then, Ms Sherri Lim, vice-president for human resource and store operations at Tangs, said staff welfare is an important consideration when changing opening hours. She said it is one reason why it would not be feasible for the store to stay open late every day at the moment.

    In fact, retail experts said manpower is a reason why the current mini-boom of shops staying open late does not herald the start of a larger change.

    Mr Chang Yeng Cheong, general manager of VivoCity mall, said: 'A lot of the time, the challenge is a shortage of staff to man the shop in the extra hours.'

    Singapore Retailers Association executive director Lau Chuen Wei gave an even more frank assessment of late-night shopping.

    One obstacle, she said, is that since most shops are found in malls, there needs to be consensus among retailers before it makes sense for the mall to stay open late.

    She also worried about how the retail sector would cope, given its existing worker crunch.

    'Service staff are already so difficult to come by.'

    [I]Additional reporting by Elizabeth Soh, Neo Wen Tong, Goh Kai Shi, Lim Yi Han and Kon Xin Hua[/I]

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    [url]http://www.straitstimes.com/News/Home/Story/STIStory_631839.html[/url]

    Feb 6, 2011

    [B][SIZE="5"]Nation of night owls[/SIZE][/B]


    Age group: 15 to 25

    # Four out of 20 sleep before midnight on weekdays

    # One sleeps before midnight on weekends

    # 16 sleep at midnight or later on weekdays

    # 19 sleep at midnight or later on weekends

    # 11 prefer establishments to be open 24 hours

    # Eight prefer establishments to close later

    # One is content with current operating hours

    Age group: 26 to 35

    # Eight out of 20 sleep before midnight on weekdays

    # Five sleep before midnight on weekends

    # 12 sleep at midnight or later on weekdays

    # 15 sleep at midnight or later on weekends

    # Eight prefer establishments to be open 24 hours

    # 12 prefer establishments to close later

    # None is content with current operating hours

    Age group: 36 to 45

    # Nine out of 20 sleep before midnight on weekdays

    # Four sleep before midnight on weekends

    # 11 sleep at midnight or later on weekdays

    # 16 sleep at midnight or later on weekends

    # Four prefer establishments to be open 24 hours

    # 14 prefer establishments to close later

    # Two are content with current operating hours

    Age group: 46 to 55

    # 11 out of 20 sleep before midnight on weekdays

    # Six sleep before midnight on weekends

    # Nine sleep at midnight or later on weekdays

    # 14 sleep at midnight or later on weekends

    # Seven prefer establishments to be open 24 hours

    # Eight prefer establishments to close later

    # Five are content with current operating hours

    Age group: 56 to 65

    # 10 out of 20 sleep before midnight on weekdays

    # Six sleep before midnight on weekends

    # 10 sleep at midnight or later on weekdays

    # 14 sleep at midnight or later on weekends

    # Six prefer establishments to be open 24 hours

    # Three prefer establishments to close later

    # 11 are content with current operating hours

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