Evolution of Markets in Singapore

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MUHD AZHAR ABDUL KARIM

The Evolution of Markets in Singapore

Contents
Introduction............................................................................................................................................ 2

2. The Local Wet Market ..................................................................................................................... 2

3. Changing landscape........................................................................................................................ 3

4. Coexistence of Wet Markets and Supermarkets ........................................................................ 4

5. Government intervention on retail landscape .............................................................................. 5

6. Sustainability of local wet markets ................................................................................................ 5

7. Citation / Reference ......................................................................................................................... 6

8. Photo Essay – The Evolution of Markets in Singapore .............................................................. 7

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The Evolution of Markets in Singapore Introduction Wet markets used to be the mecca for fresh food at excellent prices in Singapore. As the name suggest, they open air market with perpetually wet floor. It is often an integral part of the neighbourhood offering a wide range of fresh vegetables, fruits, meats, fishes, dry food, spices and even flowers. In the recent years, we have seen the emergence of modern markets. Supermarkets such as Sheng Shiong, Giant, NTUC Fairprice have become a threat to the existence of wet markets. In September 2009, Sembawang market tenants were given a month notice to move out with the intention of replacing the tenancy to NTUC FairPrice. Although the replacement did not materialise, the tenants were left anguished and it showed the volatility of wet markets in today’s changing landscape. Through research, photos and interviews with market tenants and customers, this paper will explore the possibility of the co-existence of the conventional wet markets with modern supermarkets. We will also question the sustainability of the wet markets and how the government has played their part to ensure the survival of conventional markets today.

2. The Local Wet Market A very early Sunday morning was spent at Geylang market observing the activities and patrons of such wet market. As early as 7am, housewives started to flock the market as they believe early bird catches the freshest fishes. Through observation, the market attracts the older domestic ladies between the age of 35 to 60. Although there were younger couples, they were not significant in number. From the informal interview with some of the local aunties in their mid-40s, it seems that wet market is an integral part of their lives. When asked why they would continue to patron these wet market, they quoted three factors – Freshness, familiarity, convenience which will be explained. Stocks which are sold at the market come directly from the supplier in the morning from ports such as Senoko Fishing Port. They do not go through any form of packaging which means the groceries are fresh and can be kept at low cost. Freshness and affordable are probably the biggest advantage wet markets have over supermarkets. Despite the already low cost of these groceries, there are still who will negotiate with stall owners for a lower price. Although some of the stallholders were not too happy, the customers usually get what they ask for.

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The Evolution of Markets in Singapore Geylang market first opened in 1962 and ever since, it has gone numerous renovations to upkeep the place. From the older days where the place were rats infested to its multicomplex building today, Geylang market has seen similar tenants and patrons. That brought about familiarity. Each...
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