Singapore holiday shoppers still love buying in-store

We asked Singapore shoppers how they're buying this holiday season

It's the final countdown before Christmas.

December marks the peak season for most retailers around the world hoping to cash in on the mad rush. CNBC took to one of Singapore's most bustling retail areas, Orchard Road, to get a pulse of this year's holiday retail trends, where shoppers were grabbing everything from shoes and homeware to makeup kits and jewellery.

Despite the plethora of new gadgets on the market this year from virtual reality (VR) headsets to action cameras, Frauke Klawunn, a mother of two, said she's buying no gadgets this year. "We try to slow it down with our children. We'd rather they play outside than swiping on the iPad."

"Children are quite spoiled and they have quite a list," she added, but she's keeping them in check.

Instead, Klawunn, who is a German expat living in Singapore said her children like books and experiences. She told her children that part of their Christmas gift would be their trip back to Germany for the holidays.

Shoppers in Singapore's Orchard road
Getty Images

When it comes to brick and mortar verse online shopping, many CNBC met were still adamant about buying in-store.

"In store you can see the items, which ones you like and you can feel," Cynthia Calista, said who was visiting Singapore from Jakarta, Indonesia.

"I get ideas. I was a bit lost with some people and unsure what to get them," Klawunn said. "You really need to browse, that's a big part of it, and I prefer that to sitting at a computer.

"Sometimes I check things out in store, then depending on the prices, maybe go online," Dat Duong, who lives and works in Singapore, said alluding to "showrooming", a term coined to describe the process in which consumers examine merchandise in a brick and mortar store, but then buy it online, often because it's a lower price.

For some shoppers, it was still important to avoid the crowds.

"We're out here on a weekday only because there's less people, but on a weekend it can be quite crazy," Garick Kea, a Singaporean said. "Online can be quite convenient and you don't have to go around with a crowd, it comes straight to your doorstep."

One gift multiple shoppers mentioned had nothing to do with long lines and shopping bag, but instead giving the gift of an experience.

"I bought my husband the flight experience where he was a pilot with his friends, and he loved it," Andrea Hughes, a Canadian expat in Singapore said of a previous year's gift.

Buying experiences over gifts is gaining popularity, particularly among millennials. According to Harris Interactive, a market research firm, nearly three in four millennials in the U.S. said they'd choose to spend money on an experience or event, over material things.