Some retailers moving out of JCube, as poor human traffic affects business

Some retailers are moving out of shopping mall JCube in Jurong East, as poor human traffic affects business. 

They say two new neighbouring malls, Jem and Westgate, have drawn shoppers away.
But as Travis Teo investigates, JCube's management is taking steps to help retailers. 

Familiar names which have pulled down their shutters at JCube include Chili's, Fujifilm and SK Jewellery. 

Of the 125 shop spaces available, 938LIVE understands about a fifth has either had a changed of tenancy or have fallen vacant. 

Mall owner CapitaMall Trust says tenancy changes in the last three months are in line with the norm of 15 per cent.

Karen Loh, owner of beauty salon Pretticure's Beautique, which had to move out due to the mall's revamp, says the number of walk-in customers was disappointing. 

She needs 5 to 10 customers a day to be sustainable, but gets fewer than that. 

"Sometimes no, sometimes probably two to three, maybe less than 5. People probably have gone to the new mall. Because over here the attractions are not attractive. Besides the skating rink, the rest are quite the usual shops." 

Ulysses Mendoza, assistant manager at Nandos, which is still operating, says they had felt the impact of Jem and Westgate. 

"Yes somehow it affects us cause primarily way back in 2012, when this store opened, the human traffic was pretty much better compared to what we are having right now. In terms of sales, we are coping up during weekends."

Elaine Ee helps to run family business and bag retailer U2ME. 

"The two - Westgate and Jem - have a huge impact on us after opening, and because of our tenancy agreement for three years, we are unable to vacate the space." 

But not all shops are facing poor sales. 

Necelle Osmena supervisor at Starhub exclusive retailer Telestation, says sales have improved since April last year. 

"Whether our shop was affected by the two malls on the other side, I can say it's not." 

Samuel Tan, course manager for the Diploma in Retail Management programme at Temasek Polytechnic noted JCube was one of the earliest malls in Jurong East.

"Personally I find it may have lost its freshness when the rest of the bigger malls are opened. The shops in this particular shopping mall may not be as interesting as before. When we see this changes in tenants, it allow the mall management to take stock and review its offering." 

To that end, CapitaMall says it is revamping one section into a collection of over 50 shops - similar to Seoul's Hongdae and Tokyo's Harajuku shopping districts. 

Meanwhile, retailers in Jem and Westgate are not exactly happy with their sales either. 

Kelvin Wong is a Supervisor at CEDS Sportswear outlet at Westgate. 

"The mall is trying their best to create some promotion and even the playground upstairs is helping to bring in the crowd. So definitely it's not up to our expectations but we believe it will be improving in time to come." 

Mary-Grace Palmez, Assistant Supervisor at Laksania, an eatery in Jem, says sales were below water since the collapsed ceiling incident last September.

"But the good news is that every month, our sales is better so it means we're progressing. So we're expecting that when they open the offices and the hospital, we are expecting more customers during weekdays especially lunchtime." 

However, with another mall - Big Box - slated to open in the second half of this year, retailers in Jurong East will continue to find hitting their sales targets, a real challenge.