Before and after the GST hike: How retail prices have changed in Singapore
Retailers like Guardian and Watsons decided to lock the prices of certain items, while others like Popular bookstore have put up notices to inform customers of price changes.
SINGAPORE: With the Goods and Services Tax (GST) rising by 1 percentage point to 8 per cent since Jan 1, some shops have accordingly updated their prices to reflect the increase.
CNA visited various stores to check the price difference on a random selection of items before and after the GST hike kicked in.
While some stores increased their prices, no signs were put up informing customers of the change. Others displayed notices about the transition to the new prices.
At health and beauty chain Guardian, prices remained the same for some household products and increased for others. While a face mask still cost S$2, a tube of 150g Colgate toothpaste increased from S$6.50 to S$6.60.
In response to queries, a spokesperson said prices of more than 1,000 products across its stores did not change, but did not specify a period for this. Instead, Guardian said that it would "periodically review" prices to ensure its health and beauty essentials are kept affordable.
“On top of this, we have several initiatives to help Singaporeans save including our Low Prices Locked programme which launched in June 2021, ensuring that daily essentials are affordable for our customers every day.”
The spokesperson added that Guardian has “significantly expanded” its range of house brand products, offering customers “great quality products at lower prices than the leading brands”.
At the NTUC FairPrice outlet in Bukit Ho Swee, a sign at the cashier stated that its “electronic shelf labels are currently being updated to reflect the new GST”.
“During this time, we ask for your understanding that there might be a slight variation between the shelf label and checkout prices of products. Should such a discrepancy occur, kindly refer to the checkout price,” it said.
FairPrice said in November last year that it will offer discounts to offset the GST hike for 500 essential items in the first half of this year.
A notice at Popular bookstore in NEX mall informed shoppers about a price increase due to the GST hike. It told customers to refer to a new pink label on its products for the current price.
When CNA visited the outlet on Wednesday (Jan 4), only storybooks were tagged with pink price labels, while stationery items still carried white labels. Prices of products such as highlighters, pens and foolscap paper remained the same as before the GST hike.
Meanwhile, Japanese retail chain Daiso – previously known for selling a variety of household items at a flat rate of S$2 – increased prices for the second time since it first did so on May 1 last year.
Prices on its 15-tier pricing system now range from S$2.16 to S$25.70 with GST, up from S$2.14 to S$25.47. The new price range factors in a 1 percentage point increase in the GST for each tier and has been in effect since Jan 1. Signs showing the new prices were placed in its outlets ahead of the new year.
Daiso previously said it is raising prices due to the rising costs of raw materials and logistics.
ABSORBING GST “AS LONG AS IS ECONOMICALLY VIABLE”
Apart from FairPrice, other retailers have offered promotions to help customers offset the GST hike, or chosen to absorb the GST increase whether temporarily or indefinitely.
Convenience stores, hawker centres and coffee joints CNA visited had not increased their prices.
Coffee chain Starbucks did not change the prices of its beverages, while local coffee franchise Ya Kun Kaya Toast also maintained its prices for offerings at its People’s Park Centre outlet. Both declined to comment when approached by CNA.
Prices of items at supermarket chain Cold Storage and budget shop ValuDollar did not change when CNA visited before and after the new GST rate kicked in. Prices of goods such as Milo, crackers and eggs remained the same at the Cold Storage outlet at NEX, while prices of cleaning supplies and snacks at ValuDollar remained unchanged. Both did not respond to queries on whether prices of items will change soon.
Health and beauty chain Watsons Singapore told CNA it would absorb the 1 percentage point GST increase for “200 key house brand items” across its stores and online platform for six months.
“The items are ranging from oral care, hand and body, to household essentials such as detergents and bathroom tissues. This GST absorption will hopefully help allay concerns about rising costs of living with our house brands that provide both value and quality products,” a spokesperson said.
Checks at a Watsons outlet found that prices of plasters, the Mopiko itch-relief ointment and a bottle of Listerine mouthwash remained the same before and after the GST increase.
Prices of various products from shampoo to sanitary napkins at another health and beauty chain, Venus Beauty, also remained unchanged.
A sign spotted outside an Owndays outlet read: “We got you. 1% GST hike absorbed. Same price, same great service.”
The optical chain's general manager Trevor Hwong told CNA that this applies to all 33 stores it has in Singapore and its online platform.
“We’re hoping to absorb the 1 per cent GST hike for as long as economically viable. We’ve implemented this measure as a way of helping Singaporeans ease the impact of increased cost of living from the GST hike,” he said.
“Spectacles are an indispensable component in our everyday life. By keeping prices the same, we hope customers would not have to compromise their right to good vision and proper eyecare out of concerns for higher prices.”