Saturday, June 30, 2007

Grab those goods

Today, retailers must have laughed all the way to the bank. Never mind that the banks are opened only for half the day. Retailers can still swim in the cash that keeps pouring through their tills. What is happening here?

Well, today is the last day that retailers will charge 5% GST. From tomorrow onwards, this rate will be increased to 7%. So the penny-counting public just went out to town to soak up as many of the big ticket items as possible in order not to have to pay 2% more from tomorrow. Those who couldn't think of any big items to buy bought anyway - and made up with it by buying huge quantities of small ticket items. A cabby told me today that he had picked up a women in Bedok who purchased 15 cartons - yes that's cartons, not reams - of paper (probably A4 sized paper). The cabby said he told the woman she should have commandeered a truck instead of taxing his taxi.

Was all this rush really necessary? I am sure it is not. Some shops have already increased their prices ahead of the GST increase. For example, a double-bottle of Glucosame+Chondroitin was priced at S$138 several weeks ago at Watsons. Today, when I checked, that same package is priced at S$140. That's slightly under a 2% increase, but the price has already gone up, before 1 July 2007. Moreover, some retailers have made it known that they will absorb the 2% GST for periods varying from 1 month to 6 months. So there is really no need for this stampede.

But you know, Singaporeans are a kiasu lot - afraid to lose out on a bargain, unwilling to have to pay more. So I saw many people carting away boxes of printers, microwave ovens, toaster ovens and witnessed shopping carts filled to the brim at supermarkets. The taxi stands were longer than usual, so taxi drivers also cashed in on this spending spree as more people needed their services to get their purchases home. Retailers probably never had it this good, though tomorrow is another matter.

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