SINGAPORE: Retail vacancies have hit a five-year high in Singapore's prime shopping district as brands struggle with a storm of pressures in the city state.

The increased popularity of e-commerce and sharp increases in rental costs have culminated in several operators leaving the country after struggling to make ends meet in the cut-throat retail sector.

Retail space sits empty in the high-end Orchard shopping district favoured by tourists, but the situation in some of Singapore's downtown malls is even worse, with entire sections of shopping centres sitting mostly empty, The Straits Times reported.

Singaporeans are spending less in stores, choosing instead to turn to e-commerce platforms where prices are cheaper.

According to Visa's 2015 Consumer Payment Attitudes Survey, Singapore is one of the leading markets in Southeast Asia for online shopping, with nearly three-quarters of Singaporeans shopping online at least once a month.

Meanwhile, research by Payvision has estimated that cross-border transactions make up 55% of all e-commerce transactions in Singapore.

E-commerce is being integrated into every aspect of Singaporean life, including grocery shopping, and local company Redmart has led the charge for online grocery shopping in Singapore after localising their offering to capitalise on Singaporean shopping trends.

How data insights changed Redmart's mobile e-commerce strategy is outlined in a recent Warc report from the Mobile World 2016 conference in Kuala Lumpur.

Weaker economic conditions are also to blame as the number of job redundancies hits the highest level since the global financial crisis. According to The Strait Times, redundancies in 2015 were up 20% on the previous year.

How brands can best navigate Asia's economic downturn by using brand trust and e-commerce to maintain customers in a more price-driven consumer landscape is explained by Josh Gallagher, the Chief Strategy Officer at Havas Asia Pacific, in a recent article exclusive to Warc.

Data sourced from The Straits Times, AsiaOne; additional content by Warc staff