Before hitting the stores, do equip yourself with information on local practices and conditions. The shopping tips provided below will help make your shopping experience in Singapore a pleasant one. It is also a good idea to check with your hotel concierge or visit any Singapore Visitor Centre for assistance, upon arrival.
- Always compare prices to get the best deals
Prices can vary widely between shops because distributors are not obliged to follow each product’s Recommended Retail Price (RRP). Ask your retailer if the 7% Goods and Services Tax (GST) applies; note that purchases above S$100 (in a single receipt) entitle you to GST refunds if you leave Singapore by air.
- Be aware that purchases made are usually final
Once payment is made, retailers generally enforce strict return, exchange or refund policies. To play safe, always ask your retailer about those policies before you make payment.
- Check receipts/invoices for accuracy
Ask for a receipt or invoice whenever you buy anything. Keep them for reference. Check that prices and item descriptions are correct to ensure that you do not pay more than what is required; gifts, where applicable, should be indicated as such.
- Verify what your “international warranty” covers
International warranties are not standardized. Ask and verify that your warranty is valid in your home country. Ensure both your invoice and warranty card bear your retailer’s stamp and signature; in the case of electronic goods, note the product’s serial number as well.
• There are no international warranties for mobile phones.
• A “worldwide local warranty” means the warranty is available only in the country of purchase; “worldwide” here refers to the availability of the product, not the warranty.
• Parallel imported items have no warranty, and retailers do not entertain returns, refunds or exchanges.
- Check before leaving the store
Before you make payment, ask to test the item you wish to buy and take time to check that the promised accessories and peripherals are in the package and work like they should.
A good number of department stores and some smaller shops are open daily from 1000 hrs to about 2100 hrs, or even 2200 hrs. Singapore is one of the few countries in the world it is reasonably safe out in the streets even late at night. As long as basic precautions are taken, you can shop in peace.
Mustafa Centre in Little India is the only department store in Singapore that is open 24 hours a day, everyday!
The local newspapers are usually a good bet on the most current sales and promotions. You may wish to take time to browse and compare prices before purchasing.
In department stores, all items price-tagged and prices are fixed. Many small retailers also practice price tagging but are often flexible when approached for a discount. Ask the retailer for his "best price" and then counter-offer with realistic prices until both of you reach an agreement.
Almost all stores accept major international credit and charge cards. Should you come across a shop insisting on adding a surcharge, do contact the local office of the card company so that corrective action can be taken.
For travellers’ cheques and other financial matters, approach the banks which generally operate from 0930 hrs to 1530 hrs, from Mondays to Fridays, and from 0930 hrs to 1130 hrs on Saturdays. For greater convenience, Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) are conveniently located at banks and most shopping centres and are open round-the-clock. Keep a lookout for these machines displaying Plus and Cirrus signs.
You can exchange currency at all banks, hotels, and wherever the sign "Licensed Money Changer" is displayed.
All department stores and smaller retail shops provide either cash slips or receipts upon purchase. Feel free to ask for one if this step is omitted and be sure that details shown on the receipt are accurate.
Larger shops and department stores will exchange goods if they are returned in good, original condition. However, returns are usually accepted only within a specified number of days (usually three) from the purchase date, and upon presentation of the receipt. Smaller shops may not be so accommodating, so always check goods carefully as well as the shop’s return policy before making a purchase.
If you're undecided about a purchase in a department store and would like to take some time to consider, just ask the sales assistant to put it aside for you. Items can usually be reserved for a maximum of three days.