When Jewel at Changi Airport first opened, everyone immediately flocked to it. But now, the interest seems to be waning. What’s really going on in The Jewel and will it sustain its popularity? Let’s find out:
Jewel Changi Airport
Jewel Changi Airport – also known as Jewel – is a mixed-use development that officially opened its doors on 17 October 2019. The stunning project features gardens, attractions, aviation facilities, a hotel, and approximately 300 retail and dining options.
What to do at Jewel Changi Airport?
Taking centre-stage is the HSBC 40-metre high Rain Vortex. The awe-inducing main attraction is the world’s tallest indoor waterfall. Surrounding it is a five-storey terraced forest valley, which houses one of the largest indoor collections of plants in Singapore.
With a variety of stores, Jewel is set to be a coveted stopover for tourists and a shopping haven for many locals. It’s also super convenient for nearby residents such as Easties living in areas like Upper Changi, Tanah Merah, and Simei as Jewel is within close proximity.
But has interest in Jewel Changi Airport faded?
You’ve probably heard of Jewel, or even visited it to ooh and aah at its beauty. With around 500,000 people over the six-day preview period, Jewel saw throngs of visitors (both locals and foreigners) flocking to the sprawling mall. However, in recent weeks, there have been reports of thinning crowds and a dip in business.
To find out if interest in Jewel has indeed already waned, 99.co’s writers decided to head down there to verify the rumours. They were there for the whole day: 9.30am to 2pm, and then again at 3.30pm until 7.30pm.
Here are their findings:
Jewel Changi Airport: Level B2
The F&B shops in Basement 2 are generally doing pretty well; the famous A&W still sees a good crowd, with sales and customer volume remaining consistent since the opening. Since the beloved fast food chain is open for 24 hours daily, there is a good spread of crowd at different timings.
On weekdays, you get the lunch and dinner crowd from around 11.30am to 1.30pm, and from 6.30pm onwards.
As for weekends, the crowd is remains consistent at all timings. To get around this, people visit the store in the wee hours to avoid the crowd. For those who can’t wait to get a taste of A&W, be prepared to wait in queue for up to two hours.
The Alley is also one of the more popular F&B stores in Basement 2. A well-known Taiwanese beverage chain, it is known for its brown sugar bubble tea and Instagram-worthy ombre drinks.
Since the opening of Jewel, waiting times have not changed much; customers can expect to wait between 20 and 45 minutes even after lunch hours. However, should you decide to brave the queue and go for the Royal no.9 milk tea (The Alley’s best-selling drink), you can expect to queue for up to an hour for it.
With F&B stores dominating Basement 2, coupled with the popularity of certain stores like the ones listed above, it’s definitely a solid reason why footfall is so high at Basement 2.
Jewel Changi Airport: Level B1
On Basement 1 of Jewel is a good mix of retail and F&B stores. What’s interesting about this level is that F&B shops take up the spaces surrounding the vortex. These shops extend their spaces outside along the walkway, which gives consumers an up-close of the swirling vortex while chowing down on their food.
In contrast, retail shops such as Zara and Uniqlo are located further away from the vortex, around the circumference of the dome-shaped Jewel.
Since shoppers will be immersed in shopping, they would not place too much attention on the vortex. It’s possible that such retail shops do not have to pay higher rental rates there.
This strategic placing of both F&B and retail shops allow consumers to have the best of both worlds by walking around Basement 1.
We managed to interview a few retail shops and the response we collated from the various shops reflect a common consensus: There is definitely a dip in sales and customer volume as compared to the private preview and during the opening period.
The peak periods for retail shops such as Zara and Charles & Keith during the weekdays are in the evenings, usually after-work when people have more time to shop. Despite being the peak periods for weekdays, the sales and customer volume are still definitely lower than weekends. The crowd is rather consistent and even over the weekends.
Of course, the sales and customer volume for each retail shop varies. For example, Mango has fewer sales and customer volume when compared to big names such as Uniqlo and Zara. That being said, there’s a larger crowd during public holidays and weekends.
The same goes for F&B shops on B1, having more consistent sales and customer volume over the weekends.
During the weekdays, F&B shops on this level such as Jjinja Chicken and Saap Saap Thai experience more sales during dinner time as compared to lunch time.
When asked if they were comparable to shops on the same level such as A&W and Burger King, the common response was, “Of course not, those are the popular and more well-known shops!”.
Jewel Changi Airport: Level 1
As we proceeded to the higher floors in Jewel Changi Airport, there’s an inverse proportion of retail and F&B shops as compared to lower levels. In other words, there are more retail shops and fewer F&B outlets with each increasing level.
Big brands such as Kate Spade, Coach and Fred Perry are strategically located in visible places with high foot traffic.
These big-name brands are located right next to Terminal One or escalators, thus easily catching the eyes of both tourists and locals. The peak period for these shops is usually unpredictable during the weekdays because it depends on the flight timings, so it varies from day to day.
However, just like other shops on other levels, there are more patrons and sales over the weekends as compared to weekdays.
Though there are F&B shops on this level, most of them are drinks and small bites that can be enjoyed on the go. These shops, such as Paris Baguette and Signature Koi, are usually more popular amongst the youths and young adults, though they appeal to a small percentage of the older age groups too.
What sets these shops apart from those in B2 is the perceived “atas” feeling that they impart to its patrons. F&B shops on this level see more customers and sales during lunch and dinner periods on weekdays. Just like the rest of the shops, they too, experience more sales over the weekends.
Jewel Changi Airport: Level 2
Level 2 is where most of the action is at. Renowned chains and brands such as Footlocker, Starbucks, Shake Shack, and Nike are all clustered together at the epicentre of Level 2 with bright, colourful signboard and advertisements bringing a sense of vibrancy to the vicinity.
Shake Shack’s bright green sign is the first thing that catches the eye from the street-level entrance, and what greets you is a snaking line.
The crowd is still relatively consistent for Shake Shack. Peak hour on weekdays starts from 11am to 1pm, which picks up again at from 3.30pm until 6.30pm onwards.
What’s insane about Shake Shack’s queue is there are two lines. The first main queue holds around 45 to 50. The second queue usually has around 35 people, but it’s ever-increasing come peak hour.
Waiting time is around 45 minutes to two hours long, and even longer during public holidays and weekends. Since it is Singapore’s first outlet, coupled with a huge fan base (and the fact that Singaporeans love queueing for food), it is highly likely that this will persist until later this year.
In contrast, Foot Locker and Nike were fairly empty throughout the day. Shake Shack’s foot traffic clearly did not transfer to Footlocker, or even Nike for that matter.
Nike fared better than Footlocker, however. There was more of a crowd during the opening period in the first month, with around 20 to 30 of people consisting of mainly tourists looking to shed their Singapore dollars on some fancy footwear. On the weekends, however, there were more locals.
Similarly, Tim Ho Wan had fewer customers than expected. The place was about half-filled with patrons at around 4pm and 6pm. Other than those timings, it remained fairly empty.
Its outlets in the city always draw a crowd, so the lack of customers might be attributed to the fact that it wasn’t located near hotspots like Shake Shack.
The duo that had it worse were Footlocker and Adidas. Both remained fairly empty throughout the day, with three to four customers roaming in and out of the stores aimlessly throughout the day.
Jewel Changi Airport: Level 3
Level 3 mainly holds restaurants such as JUMBO Seafood and cafés such as Nectar, which serves up artisan greek yogurt and smoothies. Since restaurants and cafés take up almost the entire level, any changes in customer and sales volume is distinct.
During the weekdays, such restaurants and cafés are usually empty. However, (we sound like a broken record at this point) they will see a spike in dining patrons during meal times. In contrast, just like any other stores, these restaurants and cafés are packed like sardines over the weekends.
You should make reservations for a table during weekends to avoid disappointment.
This level has link bridges connecting Jewel to Terminal 2, Terminal 3 and the MRT. It also has a shuttle that will take you to Terminal 4. Therefore, there are more visitors milling around the entrances during weekends and peak periods such as meal times.
There may also be higher traffic on this level because it has the perfect view of the West Gateway Garden, which allows visitors to take Instagram-worthy pictures.
Jewel Changi Airport: Level 4
A mixture of shops on this level caters to different groups of people. The most popular store on this level is the Pokémon centre, which is situated right in front of the escalator. Being the first outlet in Singapore, it has already captured the attention of all the “Ash” that could be found.
The crowd and sales volume has been consistent since Jewel’s opening. Again, there is more patrons and sales over the weekend as compared to weekdays.
A large proportion of shops clustered on this level are catered to children and parents. Shops such as Mothercare, FILA KIDS and Times Junior are not as popular as compared to other retail shops. Since such shops target a small specific group of shoppers, the sales and customer volume is generally lower than the rest of the shops.
These shops are frequented more over the weekends than the weekdays.
Other distinct features of this level are the amenities and attractions that it provides to its visitors. Asia’s very first Yotelair is opened in Singapore, giving Singapore’s airport an edge over other Asian airports. Yotelair provides cabins for visitors, usually passengers who are transiting, to rest and recharge before embarking on the next stage of their journey.
The crowd volume varies since the number of transition flights differs everyday. In addition to Yotelair, Changi Experience Studio allows visitors to be engaged in interactive games and immersive shows. Projected to open on 10th June, transit passengers, tourists and Singapore residents are able to have a go at this interesting attraction.
Jewel Changi Airport: Level 5
The biggest attraction on level 5 is The Canopy Park, which features an array of exciting play attractions. Set to open on 10 June 2019, there will be mazes, bouncing nets, garden trails and giant slides. While it was still closed when we visited, there were many curious visitors who were checking the place out or dining at the surrounding restaurants.
Apart from The Canopy Park, Level 5 boasts numerous open-air concept restaurants. With a spectacular, bird’s-eye view of the waterfall, the restaurants get filled up quickly during the peak hours (lunch and dinner) with patrons eager to dine next to stunning views.
London’s famed Burgers & Lobsters can be found on Level 5, along with other popular dining options like Tanuki Raw, Tiger Street Lab, and Rumors Bar & Grill. It is also worth noting that the dining options are vastly different and caters to a wide range of palates.
The unique dining experience and play attractions are the main draws of the area, with many there enjoying chill vibes over good food. When we visited at around 5pm, there was already a dinner queue at Burgers & Lobsters. Other F&B outlets also saw relatively good business, with close to half of its tables filled.
So, will Jewel remain trending?
The Jewel will continue to trend, in the same way that Gardens by the Bay and Sentosa are still trending. It’s mainly a tourist attraction, with HSBC’s Rain Vortex as the beacon.
Like moths to a flame, Jewel will always capture the hearts of both tourists and locals alike. Popular chains like Shake Shack and A&W is also likely to remain popular and attract crowds, especially on weekends.
With Singapore receiving thousands of tourists on a daily basis, it definitely rakes in the cash as people on holiday are usually in a spending mood. There were about 19.1 million visitors at the end of 2019, according to the Singapore Tourism Board (STB). These visitors definitely have the capacity to make it rain, with Tourism Receipts (TR) notching a high of $27.7 billion.
Even locals will continue to flock The Jewel’s hotspots. If they aren’t tired of Universal Studios Singapore (USS), then I highly doubt they’ll lose interest in The Jewel.