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Saturday, 15 August 2009

Of Malls and Men: Singapore's Awesome Orchard Road

So, you think you know shopping? Consider yourself somewhat of a shopping aficionado? Confessing to be a bit of a shopaholic maybe? Friends, you don't know nothin' until you've taken a stroll down Singapore's Orchard Road. A one-way road to shopping Elysium, Orchard is Singapore's rocking retail masterpiece.

Orchard Road originally received its name from the fruit orchards that once lined the street in the 1800's. The seeds of shopping supremacy were planted in the early 1970's when commercial development took off in SE Asia's "Lion City".

Watered by one of the strongest economies in the world, those shopping seedlings have matured into a street lined with massive shopping malls, chic boutiques and luxury hotels. A favorite area for both locals and tourists, the road is packed with people looking to take sift through the massive amount of choices.

The malls of Orchard began to take shape when Tang's department store first sprouted in the early 1950's. The "lifestyle based retailer" is a shopping institution in Singapore and was the first to setup shop on Orchard Road. Eventually big mall developments with names like Paragon, Takashimaya, Centrepoint and Plaza Singapura followed Tangs lead, and developed lavish shopping malls filled with well-known brands and boutiques.

A popular destination for both tourists and locals, Orchard Road begins to bloom in late spring, when the famed Great Singapore Sale takes hold. The annual sale offers discounts at retailers throughout the city. Merchants of Orchard Road do some clear-cutting, slashing prices and offer deals that makes the mouths of credit-card executives water.

Hotels and airlines get in on the act, offering great rates on flights and rooms from the end of May through July. The Orchard Hotel, Meritus Mandarin and Four Seasons are a few of the luxury hotels waiting for shoppers in the area and the elegant boutique Royal Plaza on Scotts is attached to a huge Duty Free shopping Plaza, for tourists looking for easy access to tax free shopping.

Every big city has a shopping haven and all claim to be the perfect place for the serious shopper; Los Angeles has Rodeo Drive, Tokyo has Ginza, New York has 5th Avenue, London has Oxford Street and Hong Kong has Central. All are fantastic destinations for consumers looking for a retail fix or for those feeling the need lighten their pocketbook, but none have embraced "mall life", like Singapore's very cherry Orchard. Throw in an annual sale so massively popular that the entire city gets in on the act, and Singapore is reigning supreme as the perfect shopping destination.

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