Thursday 12 January 2012

Orchard is world's top shopping strip: Presence Mystery Shopping survey 2011-12

It tops 29 other shopping streets in survey done by mystery shoppers
By Ng Kai Ling, The Straits Times, 10 Jan 2012

ORCHARD Road has beaten 29 other premier shopping strips to become the world's best shopping street in a survey by a French marketing consultancy.

Ninety mystery shoppers, sent out to 400 retail outlets in 30 cities by Paris-based Presence Mystery Shopping, rated Orchard Road highly in all the judging categories.

Orchard Road scored a total of 89 points out of 100.

The four categories were: the cleanliness of the street and the retail outlets, the quality of the retail staff and the friendliness of passers-by.

The mystery shoppers who came here said Orchard Road stood out for its 'wide and clean pavements and diversity of shops', and noted the availability of bins and benches.

They also felt welcomed by the sales staff in the shops.

Orchard Road was one of only two shopping strips in Asia in the top 10. Tokyo's Ginza was ranked ninth.

When The Straits Times took the news of Orchard Road's pole position to the shopping strip itself yesterday for a street poll, two opposing views emerged.

In one corner were tourists, who gave Orchard Road the thumbs-up, praising it for its cleanliness and the standard of service they had received.

In the other were Singaporeans, many of whom said the variety of shops was disappointing, and that they had received better customer service in cities such as Taipei, Hong Kong and Bangkok.

Housewife Tricia Chong, 31, could not believe Orchard Road had come out tops.

She said: 'The service staff in Hong Kong are more motivated. They even learn languages like English and Chinese to converse with their international customers.'

Hairstylist Winnie Goh, 30, said Orchard Road could do with more brands, especially mid-range ones.

She added that she has shopped in H&M in Tokyo, and that it took a couple of years for the label to come here.

The sentiments of tourists were in sync with those of the mystery shoppers.

Mr Thierry Moret, the 52-year-old Swiss chief operating officer of luxury watch brand Chopard, who is here on business, said: 'The service quality here is excellent.

'Basically, in Asia, service is always better than in Europe. People are more friendly and smile more.'

Ms Claire Sutherland, 40, who has been to the Champs-Elysees in Paris, London's shopping districts and New York's Madison Avenue, was all praise for Orchard Road.

'Ion Orchard is the most beautiful shopping centre I've been in... Orchard Road is top in the world, with top stores that are easy to get to in a big, wide street,' said the Australian journalist.

Retail analysts said the survey findings reflected the effort and investment made to transform Orchard Road into a world-class shopping street.

They noted that in a 2008 makeover costing $40 million, Orchard Road was spruced up, with wider pavements, benches, lamp posts and even recycling bins.

Paid for by the Singapore Tourism Board, the improvements were aimed at elevating Orchard Road to the level of famous shopping streets like the Champs-Elysees.

Ms Letty Lee, the director of retail services at real estate consultancy CBRE, said: 'It was a conscious effort to raise Singapore to the top.

'Now, in terms of appearance, Orchard Road is really on top.'

Singapore Polytechnic Business School senior retail lecturer Sarah Lim also agreed with the mystery shoppers.

She said: 'It's a very pleasant walk down Orchard Road, and with major brands on the facades of the malls, it looks impressive.'

She added: 'The strong results in service also showed that our investment in customer service training is showing results.'

Top 10 streets

THESE are the top 10 shopping streets in a survey of 30 such retail zones by Presence Mystery Shopping, a French marketing consultancy:

Orchard Road, Singapore: 89 points

Avenue de la Liberte, Luxembourg: 85

PC Hoofstraat, Amsterdam: 83

Bagdat Avenue, Istanbul: 83

Oscar Freire, Sao Paulo: 82

George Street, Sydney: 82

Mariahilferstrasse, Vienna: 80

Avenue Louise, Brussels: 78

Chuo Dori, the Ginza, Tokyo: 78

Bond Street, London: 77

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