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Business owners in Singapore are struggling to stay afloat due to the pandemic


By Shawn Lim, Reporter, Asia Pacific

October 4, 2021 | 3 min read

Six in 10 business owners in Singapore say they are barely surviving the Covid-19 pandemic but are cautiously optimistic about the future.


Only four in 10 (45%) business leaders now have a clear long-term strategy

41% had considered closing their businesses from January to August 2021 because of an uncertain future brought about by the pandemic, according to American Express’s second ‘Shop Small Business Recovery Research for Singapore’.

“While local businesses are more optimistic almost two years since the pandemic started, its volatility weighs heavily on business leaders’ minds, including ours. The recent spike in cases is an example of the fluidity of the situation and difficulty in planning,” said Ho Yat-Wai, the country manager for Singapore at American Express.

“Businesses need help – especially now in these volatile times. American Express is hopeful that Shop Small will provide businesses with an extra boost so they can eventually shift to thriving in the future – and not just surviving. We are mindful of shoppers’ safety, so for those who are planning to go out, we encourage you to follow safe distancing measures to keep you and your family safe.”

What did the study find?

  • With the second top challenge cited by businesses in 2021 being the lack of tourists, it is not surprising that businesses cited their regular customers and new customers (63%) as their biggest supporters.

  • 71% of respondents shared they are optimistic they can thrive in the new normal – with 76% having made adjustments to sustain their business in the next 12 months.

  • The top two changes businesses plan to make in the new normal are to focus more on e-commerce and communicate more with customers via social media.

  • Only four in 10 (45%) business leaders now have a clear long-term strategy compared to eight in 10 (84%) before the pandemic.

  • Among those who do not currently have a business plan, 23% cite the uncertainty from the pandemic as a key reason. Another 25% changed their business strategy to become more agile to better respond to changes, rather than focusing on long-term planning.

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