Friday, November 14, 2008

Singapore Shopping

Singapore Shopping
Where & What are the Best Deals

There are good bargains to be had if you are a smart shopper in Singapore. Here are some tips where you can get the best deals and what are the items that are hot:

The Great Singapore Sale

The Great Singapore Sale - GSS starts on 1 May and ends on 31 July 2009. This is a great time to look for cheap bargains when shopping in Singapore ( SG )!

I always try to do my major purchases and stretch my dollar when shopping in Singapore during the Great Singapore Sale - GSS as it saves me lots of money Discounts can be 30-40% off the regular prices, sometimes 70%!.

You don't have to limit your shopping to popular tourist areas in Singapore like the Orchard or Marina area. The heartlands (suburbs) shops also have a lot to offer for hardcore shopaholics - people who have the time and legs to shop till they drop.

Always shop around Singapore before you buy. The best strategy is to do window shopping before the Great Singapore Sale - GSS and check out the prices. This will enable you to know what are buys and what are hype.

The hardcore GSS bargain hunters usually queue up before the store opens on the first day of the sale to clean up all the best bargains. Be prepared to jostle in crowds especially on weekends. The sale to die for is not for the faint-heart. Grab, grab, grab, like it is the last day of your life! If you don't know how to be a savvy shopper, don't go shopping in Singapore expecting to get real bargains.

If you know where and when to shop, everyday is a GSS Day!

Singaporeans are great at bargaining and that helps a lot too when shopping at non-fixed price shops. Always ask, even in fixed price shops - not only for a direct price mark down but also special offers like freebies etc. Some stores offer discounts if you go for their Up-sized Purchase, Best Buys or Today's Deals.

Besides GSS, the usually are year-end sales and you can get some good buys in November / December when stores have their year-end sales.

If the recession gets worse, you can expect stores to offer closing down sales and even auction liquidation sales.

Get Good Deals Even When There is No GSS by being a Smart SG Singapore Shopper!

Here are some SG places where you may find bargains even when there is no GSS :

Sportswear (including shoes) & Budget Young Fashion:

Heeren, Queensway Shopping Centre (aka Sports Haven), Far East Plaza, Pennisula Plaza & Bugis Shop Houses, Suntec City, Holland Village & IMM shops sells clothes at reasonable to cheap (sometimes at factory) prices. (ask for discounts). Queensway Shopping Centre is known as the Sports Haven because it has practically everything you need as a sports person.

Electronics, IT, Cameras, Gadgets:

Sim Lim Square and Funan (look for Star Retailer logo on their shop front, compare prices with various shops before asking for a product demo and ask for discounts). Make sure the "free gifts" that are thrown in with the purchase are not actually bundled offers by the manufacturer.

Be wary of Bait and Switch marketing tactics - i.e. the retailer says they have something better and induce you to buy a more expensive model).

Be careful if the retailer tells you that the product is not in their store and they will get it from their "storage". This usually means they will get it from another store and it is likely they will mark up a small fee for the service which may be higher than the retail price offered by the original store holding the stock.

Established electronic / IT retailers like Challenger (Funan), Harvey Norman, Best, Audio House (Liang Court), Courts (Tampines Ave.10), Song Brothers (Sim Lim) also have regular sales offers. They sometimes do mailers to get buyers into their store.

When buying electronic products, it is best to do your research on the product features and quality online before stepping into the stores. It will save you a lot time if you focus on price rather than on the product features when you do shopping in these places. This is to avoid a situation when a salesperson (though not all) is motivated to sell you something based on how much commission they can make rather than what is the best product for your budget. Also salespeople cannot be expected to know everything about every product.

Department Stores:

Robinsons, John Little's, Takashimaya, Isetan, Tangs, Mustafa. Mustafa @ Serangoon Road Little India is opened 24 hours a day. During the Great Singapore Sale many shops are opened late - some up to midnight (particularly those located in the Orchard Road area) so you have a chance to shop till you drop.

Branded / Luxury Goods:

Prices / offers may vary from one branded store / boutique to another. Must be knowledgeable of prices and products to get good deals. Window shop before buying. Many brand name fashion labels are located in SG plus numerous home grown labels in the major shopping centres (see Tourists Discounts below for some of the major shopping malls in Singapore). LV (Louis Vuitton) Boutique, Esprit are a good place to start. The more famous brand names are located at Orchard Road.

Good bargains and new product launch can also be had during the Singapore Fashion Festival (Spring) in March-April and Singapore Fashion Week (Fall) in October.

Special Exhibitions & Fairs:

Special short term events like PC or IT shows and other specialized product events offer excellent buying opportunities for big ticket items. Even if you don't get a significantly lower price for the new line of products, you will get lots of free gifts and other offers with your purchases. Computer exhibitions are usually held four times a year during the school holidays at either Suntec City and the Singapore Expo.

Also at these PC / IT shows, there are special spot (hour) sales plus closing sales where they try to get rid of unsold stocks. Watch for queues forming for indications of special deals being offered.

Companies like Robinsons, John Little's, Popular, MPH, Metro etc regularly hold warehouse sales and good bargains can be had at these Convention Centers.

These events are usually held at the Singapore Expo, Suntec City and other exhibition venues. Check out the exhibition calendar at these venues' website regularly to see if there is any interesting upcoming events at these venues.

Factory Outlet / Warehouse Sales:

Check the newspapers advertisements especially the Classified Ads). More factory outlet or Surplus Stores are likely to be set up in outlying areas of Singapore. A casual drive through the factory areas of MacPherson, Kallang, Ubi etc sometimes bring good shopping values as these wholesalers liquidate stocks or are going out of business. Such sales intensify at year's end.

Daiso - the "almost everything is $2" store also offers knick-knacks from stationery to household items - some are of great value. The major Daiso stores are at IMM and Vivocity.

Toyogo - Sells a wide variety of plastic items including three-piece set for microwave and freezer-safe containers at $3.50 and a 7-liter ice cooler box for $15. Toyogo is located at #01-1207, Block 11 Toa Payoh Industrial Park, Lorong 8. Nearest MRT station - Toa Payoh. Open: 10am-7pm daily.


Borders, Kinokuniya, Popular & Times. You can get better discounts if you sign up for a free Membership Card and buy the week's Special Deals etc. Members are informed of any special sales events by email. They also have warehouse sales at Singapore Expo.

Shenton Publications - 1,000 books, 80% of retail price, some as low as $1. Shenton Publication's 400 sq ft warehouse is at #03-06 Block 1085 Eunos Ave 7A, near Paya Lebar MRT. Open: Noon to 6pm Wed-Sun


If you are interested in cutting your grocery bills, you can buy fruits (Jurong), fish (Jurong), vegetables (Pasir Panjang) in bulk and split the purchases with your friends and relatives. These wholesale centers will sell it to you at almost the same price as that they offer to retailers, so it is a good bargain. "Bulk" here refers to buying one box of (for example) apples or minimum quantity of vegetables. However, they do not deliver. So you'll need transport and the time to do make the weekly purchases. They are opens only in the early mornings - Mondays to Fridays.

Another alternative is to visit the small farms at Yio Chu Kang if you want organic foods but variety is limited to what they grow in their respective farms.

If you don't have the time to go to these wholesalers, buy from NTUC FairPrice, Giant or Siong Hoe for slightly lower grocery prices. NTUC members get a better discounts. If you have time for fresh foods shopping in the mornings, visit the neighbourhood "wet markets" for slightly better prices.

Tai Hua - Soy sauce and canned food (eg longan & pineapple) distributor. Prices 10-20% lower than retail shops. Tai Hua is at 12 Jalan Besut, nearest MRT Lakeside. Open: 10am-4pm, Mon-Fri.

Tee Yih Jia - Manufacturer of pastry skins, roti prata and glutinous rice balls. Prices 10-30% lower. Tee Yih Jia is located at 1 Senoko Road, nearest MRT station - Sembawang. Open: 8am-5pm, Mon-Fri.

Super CoffeeMix - Manufacturer's outlet sells slightly cheaper than NTUC FairPrice. 26 Senoko Way. Nearest MRT: Sembawang.

Plants and Landscaping:

If you are interested in decorating your home and garden with greenery, the best place to go to are the farms located in the outlying areas of Singapore. The florists at Upper Thomson Road (near Caledcott Hill - the floral mile of Singapore) also offer good plants and home improvement items at a discount if you sign up as a member or pay with certain credit cards.

Furniture & Home Renovation:

Visiting factory showrooms during sales promotions usually yield the best results - most sited in the Kallang, Ubi and Geylang area. Other places worthwhile visiting are Ikea (Tampines Ave. 10 & Alexander Road) - Ikea members get a better discount - and IMM.

Ornamental Fish and Other Pets:

Qian Hu at Jalan Lekar is one of the biggest marine and fresh water aquarium fish wholesaler and retailer in Singapore. There are big clusters of ornamental fish farms / showrooms at the Pasir Ris Farmway 2 & 3 and Seletar West Farmway 2.

Musical Instruments:

Swee Lee - 10,000 sqft at 150 Sims Drive (near Aljunied MRT station). As member, you can enjoy attractive member's discount especially at the annual sale. Swee Lee is open: Mon-Sat, 10am - 7pm.

Ebay SG:

Ebay Singapore (SG) and several locally based auction sites catering to the Singapore buyers also offer good buys. Check them out and make sure you are dealing with a "power seller" (company / person with a good sales track record) to ensure they have a reliable service like delivery times and product return policies. Make purchases using the Pay Pal service offered by Ebay for more secured online transactions.

The main advantage of using Ebay Singapore is you save on shipping costs - which can be quite considerable depending on the country and weight of the product. You can normally get delivery one day after the confirmation of the product purchase when you buy from Ebay SG. These Singapore ebay merchants also ship internationally.

If their are no SG sellers / "auctioneers" at Ebay, the nearest "advanced" country you can buy via Ebay at comparatively lower shipping costs is Australia. Check the Aussie dollar exchange rate before making your purchase. Note: You don't have to participate in the Ebay auction, you can just click "buy" and get the product immediately.

Website / Email Subscription / Membership:

As mentioned earlier, many retailers here have a Singapore website and an email alert service to inform you of special deals being offered from time to time. Get a dedicated web-based email address to receive such "junk" emails. Some of them may be just the thing you are looking for. Don't use your main email address for this unless you like to be swamped with tons of emails!

Mail Box / Snail Mail:

If you live in the more affluent places (like Orchard Road which allow non-postal personnel to stuff mailers into your mail box) or in uptown landed properties, there is a high chance you will receive a big color sales catalog or advertisement laden magazines in your mail box.

Credit Card Discounts:

Using the right credit cards also helps in reducing spending. You can get special discounts, interest-free credit, buy-one-get-one-free type of deals with those merchants having credit card tie-ins and promotions with the banks and vendors. Always ask the service staff: "Which credit card offer the best deals?" Big spenders are also given spending vouchers which gives them a good discount with selected merchants. Different credit cards have different shopping advantages: movie tickets, petrol, dining, supermarkets, shops etc. Check around and get the ones that best meet your spending requirements. These offers differ from year to year so be prepared to cut up some credit cards as you get new ones - unless you like carrying big fat wallets.

Duty Free Shopping:

For tourists, you can buy duty free items at DFS Galleria Scottswalk - and at the Changi Airport, of course.

For other places, the GST (Goods Services Tax) will be refunded if more than 300 Singapore dollars is spent. Receipts of Singapore dollars 100 or more can be pooled from shops displaying the Tax Free Shopping sticker.

To qualify for this, ask for your shopping check when you make purchases at that store. While leaving Singapore present all your tax free shopping cheques (both the blue and yellow copies) and your passport along with the goods purchased to the customs. These tax-free shopping cheques are then stamped by the customs. Now you can cash these tax-free shopping cheques at cash refund counters located at the Changi airport during your departure.

Tourists Discounts:

Tourists can of course get a Tourist Privilege Card or the Traveler's Card from OneLoyality and enjoy extra discounts from some outlets including fashion items, spa treatments, consumer electronics like ipods, dining and visits to Singapore attractions.

For tourists with limited time on their hands, the bigger shopping malls for general merchandise / luxury items are: VivoCity, Ngee Ann City (pronounced "knee un"), Suntec City Mall, Marina Shopping Center, Raffles City Complex, in that order.

For cameras, electronics: Sim Lim and Funan. If you just want bargains, and are not particularly interested in luxury items, top of the line products or the very latest products, then go to Mustafa at Serangoon Road.

Flea Markets:

For antiques, collectibles, handicrafts and curios, go to the various makeshift flea markets in several locations: Clarke Quay, China Square, Far East Square and Tanglin Mall are opened for business on Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays (at different times). Check with the shopping centers concerned for the opening times. Sungei Road is opened daily from 1-7 pm (the original open air flea market) offers mainly low end discarded second hand items.

If you have complaints against a shop, you could file a complaint with the STPB (Singapore Tourist Promotion Board) if you are a tourist and CASE (Consumer Association of Singapore) if you are a Singapore resident.

Overseas Shopping Trips:

If you like to go on shopping sprees in neighboring countries, go to Thailand. There are more varieties there compared to Malaysia or Indonesia and the people are a lot more friendlier there too. Also air tickets are cheaper from Singapore and there are nice places to visit and a more vibrant nightlife. However, traffic jams are the norm there and it is a lot hotter in Bangkok (as it is in a delta area). So be prepared to go topless over there. Of course, you'll want to avoid Bangkok when Thailand has political problems.

The only disappointment I have about Singapore Shopping is I can't find any chewing gum in any of the stores. Is it banned or what? - Boo - Singapore Shopping

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Fake & Contaminated China Products

Fake | Contaminated China Products

It boggles the mind to think of the amount of fake / contaminated goods coming out of China due to lax supervision and enforcement by Chinese authorities. This is sad as it will hurt honest Chinese manufacturers wanting to find a place in world markets. It is good to see that in recent months, the Chinese authorities are stepping up enforcement and help clear its name as a reliable supplier of products.

Counterfeited / pirated / shoddy products like illegal DVDs of Hollywood blockbuster movies, Gucci / Louis Vuitton bags, computer software, S-Yard golf clubs and Rolex watches.

Industrial products are also subject to counterfeiting such as motor engines, compressed natural gas (CNG) to inferior fertilizers, construction materials, gas stoves, household appliances, light truck tires. Where will it all stop?

Probably the worst is China's "black-hearted" goods. Products that can impair your health or even kill you. The most serious of which is the use of an industrial plastic chemical Melamine added to milk and animal feed resulting in contaminated dairy products and eggs and all products that use these milk / egg products to make other products. Chinese products that have been recall included milk (most notably Sanlu Milk Powder), biscuits, yogurt, chocolate, ice cream, whey products and other products need milk as an ingredient.

There's also fake mineral water, beer, fruit drinks, eggs, cigarettes and adulterated medicine from China.

Pet foods and children toys are also laced with dangerous chemicals which can make them ill.

Then you have tooth picks made from contaminated wood waste to recycled syringes recycled from hospitals etc.

Animals, Fish and other marine animals fed with pesticides and antibiotics (this problem is not limited to China only).

If you eat at shady restaurants in China, you may be served with leftover food from earlier diners' plates.

I-Tec Supermarket
I-Tec Supermarket was the first establishment in Singapore to be convicted and fined $5,000 for selling melamine-tainted China-made milk products after a ban came into effect on Sept 19, 2008. A raid by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Services (AVA) on I-Tec's Serangoon branch found 50 bottles of China-made "Dutch Lady Strawberry-flavored Milk' as well as other milk products from China being displayed on its shelves and in refrigerators for sale. I-Tec's Balestier Road outlet on the same day, AVA also found the same brand on sale.

Warnings have been reportedly issued to 10 other retail outlets but an AVA spokesperson said no other prosecutions are in the pipeline.

How can you protect yourself from these toxic products?

Read the products' packaging label. In particular, their UPC (barcode). It is not enough to read the "Made in" as this can be deceptive as a product made in China may be repackaged in your country and therefore have a made in Singapore label although the origin of the product is China.

Even if the product in made outside China there is no guarantee that the product is safe as the imported raw materials they use may be from unreliable sources which may be contaminated with melamine or other dangerous substances.

To help you read UPC barcodes to find out the country of origin of the product, here is the UPCs of countries which are major supplier of food products to Singapore:

UPC country barcodes:

00 - 13 USA & Canada
471 Taiwan
480 Philippines
489 Hong Kong
490 - 499 Japan
500 - 509 United Kingdom
690 - 695 China
885 Thailand
888 Singapore
890 India
893 Vietnam
899 Indonesia
930 - 939 Australia
940 - 949 New Zealand
955 Malaysia
958 Macau

As of 28 November 2008 (as reported in Straits Times "Sales ban lifted, but consumers wary", the following 6 products have been banned due to the products being tainted by melamine:

  • Baby Looney Tunes Crem Filled Biscuits Assorted Family Pack
  • C & OK vigour 888 Egg & Mi8lk
  • Khong Guan Mini Burger Biscuit Bulk Pack
  • Liluo Fruit P.D. Almond Flavor
  • Potter Potato Chips Pizza
  • Tom & Jerry Cheese Balls

China-made products cleared for sale by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) some 327 have made their way back onto Singapore stores which was previously banned due to melamine contamination:

  • Dove chocolate bars
  • M&M candies
  • Mentos chewy yogurt balls
  • Vitasoy soya bean milk (four pack)
  • JJ Bandung drinks
  • Nestle Milk & Berry Star Cereal
  • Want Want seaweed rice cracker
  • Nissin Bowl Noodles XO Seafood
  • Ego Assorted Chocolae (bag of 30)
  • Swanson Chicken Broth

Malaysia-made products on the tainted list (Straits Times 25 October 2008 "20 more products found tainted with melamine"):

  • Lotte Koala's March Cocoa Chocolate Biscuit
  • Hello Kitty Strawberry Cream Filled Biscuit
  • Unbranded non-dairy creamer in industrial pack (for re-export)
  • Julie's golden Kaka Crackers
  • Julie's Wheat Crackers
  • Julie's Cottage Crackers (Original Yeast Cracker)
  • Julie's chez Creamy Cheese Sandwich
  • Julie's Sugar Crackers (Extra Flaky)
  • Julie's Waferico Chocolate Coated Wafers with Chocolate Cream Filling
  • Julie's Cream Crackers
  • Julie's Minico Rich Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Julie's Peanut Butter Sandwich
  • Julie's Cocoro Crispy Chocolate Wafer Rolls with Vanilla Filling
  • Julie's Le-Monde Puff Sandwich with Lemon flavoured cream
  • Khong Guan Assorted Biscuits
  • Leo gold Finger Choco
  • Santa Chocolate Gold Fingers
  • Swan Chocolate Fingers
Malaysia's Julie's crackers are likely to be allowed for sale by early December 2008.
© - Fake & Contaminated China Products