Another sales assistant of a shop that sells lighting, fans and electrical appliances also said he was seeing more Singaporean customers.
“Many Singaporeans now trust our quality. Our electronics are usually imported from other countries, such as our fans which are from Taiwan.
“So the quality is no different from purchasing elsewhere,” he said.
Dr Lynda Wee, adjunct associate professor of marketing and international business at the Nanyang Business School in the Nanyang Technological University, agreed that furniture prices are usually higher in Singapore.
This is due to the lack of furniture-making facilities and workers, importing of raw materials – such as wood – and high retail rental and manpower costs, she said.
Furniture prices lower in JB
National University of Singapore Business School associate professor of finance Qian Wenlan and visiting professor Sumit Agarwal had said in an opinion piece published in The New Paper that non-branded items cost 20 per cent to 30 per cent less in Malaysia.
All these factors, as well as the close proximity of both countries, make it appealing for Singaporeans to go cross-border shopping, they had said.
Dr Wee said this trend would hit mom-and-pop furniture retailers here the hardest.
But one such shop owner, Mr H. S. Tee of Vickson Furnishing in Bukit Batok, said his business is unfazed by the competition.
JB Furniture & Appliances: No warranty and servicing
“If anything happens to your purchases from Malaysia, it will be very hard to get them serviced here,” he said in Mandarin.
Mr Tee added that his quality assurance would keep customers coming back.
Both Mr Yeo and Ms Yang said the main consideration of consumers, including themselves, would always be the price.
Larger furniture needs to be delivered
Ms Yang said she brought back most of the smaller items, such as the lights and fans, by car, and had the larger furniture pieces delivered.
Shops in Malaysia offer transportation for larger pieces, usually for a fee, although customers are subject to a 7 per cent Goods and Services Tax (GST) for items delivered into Singapore.
GST for goods valued below $150 is not applicable for travellers who are out of Singapore for less than 48 hours. For those who are away for more than 48 hours, GST is exempt for goods valued up to $600.
Ms Yang said: “Even after paying the 7 per cent GST, things were still cheaper.
“Price is everything. And so far, it has been a smooth experience buying furniture from Malaysia.”
Part of this article first appeared on The New Paper.
Text: Ronald Loh/Home & Decor