The Evolution of Markets in Singapore

Topics: Markets, Supermarket, Fish market Pages: 7 (2267 words) Published: March 1, 2011
The Evolution of Markets
in Singapore

2. The Local Wet Market2
3. Changing landscape3
4. Coexistence of Wet Markets and Supermarkets4
5. Government intervention on retail landscape5
6. Sustainability of local wet markets5
7. Citation / Reference6
8. Photo Essay – The Evolution of Markets in Singapore7

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, NTUCFairprice 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. 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 multi-complex building today, Geylang market has seen similar tenants and patrons. That brought about familiarity. Each patron knows exactly where they should go to get their groceries. After so many years, they built a relationship that is void in a supermarket context. I noticed fishmonger who recognised their customers’ favourite fish types and some even discouraged them from buying when the fishes are no longer fresh. Uncle Sam, a fishmonger, said that he has seen many of his customer’s children grew up, get married and now they are his customers. Some of the stall owners go the extra mile by loading the goods straight to their cars, and mind you, they can remember their customers’ cars. That high level of personalised service is unmatchable for supermarkets. The housing development board (HDB) strategically located such markets within a residential area to promote cohesion among neighbours. Since local markets will end by noon, the short time increases the neighbours to bump into each other. This works well when observed that the...
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