Don Don Donki’s entry into the local market with its 24-hour Orchard Central store indicates yet another chance for Singaporeans to snag good deals at a cut-price chain retailer.
Daiso, which entered the Singapore market in 2002 with its store in IMM in Jurong, is known for its standard $2 price tag across all its items. It now has 15 stores across the island, including at prime locations such as Ion Orchard and Plaza Singapura.
Known around the world as the “Japanese dollar store”, it sells a wide assortment of about 70,000 household items, which includes everything from ceramic tableware and storage solutions to pet clothes and chair socks. Overall revenue for the brand climbed 6.3 per cent in the financial year 2017.
Miniso, the Japanese lifestyle and fast-fashion brand that sells merchandise such as homeware, bags and electronics at low prices, has also expanded rapidly since its entry into the market in December 2015. There are now 27 stores here.
And though the brand has gotten flak for its dubious origins and logo – Miniso touts itself as a Japanese brand, but has only four stores in Tokyo compared with more than 1,000 in China, plus its logo looks suspiciously similar to that of Japanese clothing brand Uniqlo – it does not seem to have affected the brand’s retail success here.
Sales at Miniso Singapore averaged about $3 million a month this year and the brand projects that this will rise to $4.5 million a month next year.
The company’s director, Mr Alex Zhang, says it is not concerned about Don Don Donki entering the fray as it is in a different retail category and will not engage in head-to-head competition with the other retailers.
For now, he says, the brand plans to open two more outlets by year-end and is targeting to open 10 more outlets next year – eventually taking the total store count to 60 islandwide.
For Don Don Donki chairman Takao Yasuda, though, being the newest contender in the market is not a worrying prospect.
“Unlike Daiso and Miniso, Don Don Donki operates almost like a full grocery store and sells fresh produce, meats and even alcohol. Though we might be all considered discount stores, we have different business models,” he says.
“I think there is definitely a place for all retailers to thrive here if you can create a niche.”
The brand already has plans to open a second outlet in 100 AM mall in June and to expand into Thailand by November next year.
Locally, Mr Yasuda says he hopes to have about 10 stores here in the next two to three years.
As for consumers, the spectrum of options is just another reason to rejoice.
Madam Betty Ngeow, 64, who is a regular shopper at Daiso and Miniso, says having the chance to toggle among stores for the best deals is the upside of having more discount retailers here.
“I like to go to Daiso to buy more disposable household and gardening items, but Miniso is a good place to get more hardy items such as travel pillows and travel-sized toiletries containers, which I will use again and again,” she says.
“Both stores have their pros and cons – Daiso has a wider selection of products, but I feel the quality of items at Miniso is slightly better. I’m looking forward to seeing how Don Don Donki compares.”
For bargain-hunters such as language-school teacher Mae Wang, though, reading the hype surrounding the opening of Don Don Donki got her so excited that she decided to apply for a day’s leave to check out the store.
“Going to the store at an off-peak time in the early morning allows me to beat the crowds and hopefully suss out what the good deals are at the new store,” the 31-year-old says.
The massive crowds she faced at 9am on Monday indicated that many others had the same idea as her, but the avid shopper was not fazed.
“Even though some of the reported bargains such as super cheap Japanese snacks were all snapped up already, I still think there were some good deals to be had – especially for Japanese produce and wines, which are definitely cheaper here than at bigger Japanese retailers and supermarkets,” she says, showing off her basket of fresh fruit and meats, plum wine and an assortment of ramen noodles.
“The crowds will likely die down soon, but I don’t mind queuing either way. It’s worth it to get things at a cheaper price.”