SINGAPORE: A number of hawkers have responded with surprise to the high bids some made for cooked food stalls, after the results of the latest bidding exercise came out this week. The highest bid – S$6,800 per month for a stall at Marine Parade Food Centre – has raised eyebrows and concerns over how the hawker will manage such a staggering monthly rental.

The stall that attracted the S$6,800 bid was contested by five bidders, with bidding prices ranging from S$4,100 to S$6,800. The highest bid is the highest price ever recorded at this food centre.

Another stall, located on the second floor of a food centre in Chinatown, attracted a bid price of S$4,040.

Hawkers who spoke to Channel 8 news expressed disbelief at these unprecedented bid prices. Many voiced their inability to shoulder such a hefty monthly rental fee, raising doubts about the feasibility of running a food business under these circumstances. Concerns were also raised about how vendors would cope with these soaring rents, with some fearing that they may be forced to increase their food prices.

Hawkers told the Chinese daily that they cannot fathom paying such an exorbitant rent as it would eat into their slim profit margins, potentially jeopardizing their customer base if they’re forced to increase fare prices.

Hawkers grappling with inflation and the cost-of-living squeeze are already contemplating raising prices, given the recent announcement that the prices of water, gas and electricity are all being hiked.

The broader implications of these record-high bids for cooked food stalls are yet to be fully understood and questions regarding the sustainability of small food businesses in the face of skyrocketing rental costs remain unanswered.