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Smog Bites Into Singapore Retail

Smoke from forest fires in neighboring Indonesia is keeping shoppers at home.

SINGAPORE — Smog blown in from forest fires in neighboring Indonesia is keeping shoppers at home in this city-state and retailers are taking a hit during a key sales period.

Lau Chuen Wei, an executive director at the Singapore Retailers Association, said that an informal poll of her organization’s members indicated that foot traffic was significantly down and that sales had declined by between 8 to 12 percent year-on-year over the last seven days as Singaporeans sought refuge in air-conditioned homes and offices as air pollution levels reached record hazardous levels early Thursday afternoon.

The financial district, located in southern Singapore, was especially badly hit. Television footage showed the boardwalk leading to Louis Vuitton’s island maison, built on reclaimed land just off the Marina Bay Sands resort, unusually empty. “Suburban stores are not as badly affected as city stores, as most people are staying closer to home, avoiding venturing too far out,” Ms. Lau said.

Vivian Balakrishnan, Singapore’s minister for Environment and Water Resources, said late Wednesday night that the haze was likely to persist for the next few days and that a stop work order might be issued depending on conditions. Dozens of companies began allowing employees to work from home Thursday, including Nike Inc, according to a list that was widely circulated on local websites. The information couldn’t immediately be verified and Nike Singapore didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The haze comes in the middle of the annual June school vacation, a popular shopping period, and the eight-week long Great Singapore Sale, which often draws in visiting shoppers from Southeast Asia.