More S'pore malls catering to families
Tue, Jan 18, 2011
my paper

By Joy Fang and Gwendolyn Ng

MORE businesses, such as shopping malls, are implementing measures that aim to make the consumer experience better for families.

For instance, some malls have play areas for children, offer reading glasses to the elderly and have wider aisles to accommodate those in wheelchairs.

The Businesses for Families Council, set up to help businesses cater to families here, said it has, since 2006, seen a leap of 118 per cent in businesses which are committed to adopting family-friendly practices. The council is supported by the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports.

Ms Lau Chuen Wei, council member and executive director of Singapore Retailers Association, said that retailers are aware of growing competition and are keen to invest in family-friendly measures.

She said: "There is only so much retailers can do to differentiate themselves in the area of merchandise offerings... They have to differentiate themselves through the kind of services they provide."

To encourage more businesses to be pro-family, the council will hold the inaugural "We Welcome Families" Awards in March to hand out accolades to businesses - such as food-and-beverage outlets and malls - with family-friendly practices. The finalists were announced yesterday at an event held at the Pan Pacific Singapore hotel.

City Square Mall is one of the 37 shortlisted finalists.

Mr Tan Boon Tuck, centre director of City Square Mall located in Kitchener Road, said the mall wants to be the retail complex of choice for families.

The mall offers complimentary rental of kiddy cabs, baby strollers and wheelchairs, and has specially designated larger parking spaces for family cars and hybrid cars. Reading glasses for the elderly are also available at its information counters.

Declining to divulge figures, Mr Tan said the mall has "seen a steady number of families visiting it from day one".

Visitors appreciated the facilities offered, he added, and the use of kiddy cabs is "relatively high", ranging from 30 to 50 rentals per day on weekends.

A Frasers Centrepoint Malls spokesman said the company has "definitely seen an increase in families visiting our malls and staying longer to enjoy the amenities", after pro-family measures were implemented gradually about five years ago.

Two of its malls, Compass Point and Northpoint, have been shortlisted as finalists in the competition.

All of its malls have specially designed toilets for the handicapped, baby rooms for parents and diaper-changing facilities, even in male toilets.

Shopper Celine Ong, 34, a mother of two, said that restaurants or malls which have family-friendly features rank high on her list of go-to places.

"It can be a struggle, sometimes, to take care of two kids when I'm out. So, it makes my experience easier when there are clean diaper-changing facilities and play areas to keep my children entertained," she said.

For more my paper stories click here.

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