You probably already know that Singapore has the reputation of being the world’s most expensive place to live in, as backed by plenty of surveys and reports.
Living in Singapore is like constantly being reminded that everything here comes with a hefty price tag.
Whether it’s the upcoming public transport fare hike starting on 23 December 2023, the sky-high inflation rates, or the never-ending rise in housing and rental prices.
Your wallet takes a hit at every turn.
Even the rents for those traditional bazaars, like the “pasar malam,” aren’t exempted from the price surge. This year, the Geylang Serai Ramadan bazaar felt the pinch in its commercial rental rates.
However, there’s a silver lining after all the complaints and losses suffered by stall owners.
Next year’s Geylang Serai Ramadan bazaar is making a change, capping the rental rate at a more reasonable $15,000.
Geylang Serai Ramadan Bazaar 2024 Will Have a Rental Cap of $15,000
Next year, stallholders at Geylang Serai Ramadan Bazaar will have their rents capped at $15,000.
The announcement was made by Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim on Sunday (29 October) via a Facebook post.
In the Facebook post, he wrote: “For Bazaar Raya Geylang Serai 2024, we are taking steps to ensure that it is more affordable for our sellers and consumers.”
Minister Faishal is the lead adviser at Wisma Geylang Serai, an integral part of the People’s Association (PA), and is responsible for overseeing the annual Geylang Serai Ramadan bazaar.
While $15,000 may sound like a substantial sum, it’s essential to highlight that next year’s rental fee represents a significant reduction compared to this year’s rental rates.
Geylang Serai Ramadan Bazaar 2023 Rental Was Significantly Higher
This year’s bazaar, which ran from 17 March to 21 April, featured over 700 stalls.
However, it wasn’t all smooth sailing, as reported by The Straits Times, with numerous stallholders voicing their complaints about high rental fees.
These costs didn’t even cover additional expenses and premium prices associated with certain food items.
To give you an idea, the basic rental rates for stalls in 2023 ranged from $2,000 to $19,000. Stall owners who wanted to sell Ramly burgers would be set back an additional $4,000.
Those selling kebabs had to cough up a staggering $25,000 just for the base rental.
So, let’s put this in perspective – that’s more than the average monthly household income in Singapore.
And as if that wasn’t enough, all food and beverage stallholders were hit with incidental costs ranging from $30 to $3,100. These additional charges covered utilities, water supply, fans, coolers, and tables and chairs.
Despite rental rates hitting high this year, the organisers insisted that these prices align with the current market rates.
Stall Owner Contemplates Setting Up Stall Next Year
Mohamad Haikel Suhaimi, the stall owner of a Ramly burger stall at the 2023 bazaar, expressed his uncertainty about renting a stall at next year’s bazaar, even with the proposed rent cap.
In his conversation with The Straits Times, he highlighted that the high rental fee is one of many factors he needs to consider.
In other words, as a stall owner, there are many factors he has to consider before deciding on setting up a stall at next year’s Geylang Serai Ramadan bazaar.
This includes electricity charges, the cost of manpower for the long hours, and the cost of goods.
He further emphasised that this year, he barely managed to break even, and he was aware of fellow vendors who incurred losses.
Bazaar Received Complaints on Steep Rental Rates and Competition
Wisma Geylang Serai reported that the bazaar drew over 200,000 visitors in its opening week.
However, for some stallholders, the story took a different turn as they struggled with steep rents and the promise of exclusive rights to sell specific food items within designated tents.
While the maximum rental charge for food and beverage stalls was capped at $19,000, several stall owners were enticed by the exclusivity factor, as promised by the organisers, and willingly paid a premium.
Out of a total of 150 F&B booths, approximately 20 were designated as exclusive.
Amr Elgoharoi, the owner of Pasha Turkish Kebab, said he was assured exclusivity for operating a stall in the tent near Onan Road if he paid $24,000.
To his dismay, the exclusivity he had paid for did not come true as another kebab shop was set up less than 50m from his stall, which left him feeling deceived and disheartened about his investment.