The Business Expectations Survey on HDB shopkeepers was conducted in 3rd Quarter of 2011, covering a total of 2,702 HDB shopkeepers in various HDB towns/ estates. The survey found that the overall business sentiment had improved over the years in the HDB heartland.
The satisfaction level among HDB shopkeepers in 2011 (54.2%) was similar to 2010 (54.7%). The proportion of shopkeepers who expressed satisfaction with their current business in these 2 years was higher than the 52% in 2009 and 43.5% in 2008 (Figure A).
The shopkeepers’ satisfaction was partly due to having an established customer base (44.3%) and good location of shops (17.5%). A higher proportion of shopkeepers operating in mature towns were also satisfied with business. This could be because they had operated their business for a longer period of time, and had hence established their customer base. The majority of shopkeepers cited high operating costs and stiff competition as their main business challenges.
Shopkeepers’ satisfaction levels varied across different trade types. Operators of medical/ dental clinics had the highest satisfaction level, with 81.2% of them satisfied with their business. Those operating hardware/ renovation and interior design firms were also more satisfied (63.3%). On the other hand, those operating optical shops (38.8%), apparel and tailor shops (41.5%), and shops selling electrical/ electronic products (41.8%) were among the least satisfied. The most common factor behind their dissatisfaction was stiff competition (Figure B).
Slightly more than half (51.7%) of HDB shopkeepers were proactive and had initiated various measures, such as giving discounts, ramping up publicity, and making an effort to improve their products and services. 81.6% of these shopkeepers had saw an improvement in their business.
81.6% of the shopkeepers expressed their intentions to continue with their present business in the next 5 years. The proportion of shopkeepers who intended to close down their business dropped from 15.4% in 2007 to 9.3% in 2011 (Figure C). Shopkeepers cited the following reasons for continuing with their present business:
- The business was their main source of livelihood
- The business had been in operation for many years
- The business was still doing well and profitable
For the 9.3% of shopkeepers who would like to quit, the top 2 reasons were the lack of improvement in business/ poor prospects/ being in the sunset industry and the intention to retire due to old age/ health problems.
In terms of trade types, medical/ dental clinics were more likely to continue with their business. Operators of retail trade, such as fashion and apparel were least likely to continue with their business as they did not expect their prospects to improve (Figure D).