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December 13, 2010

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'Chaos' as shoppers seek a bargain

SCENES of chaos filled city department stores offering big discounts over the weekend as shoppers battled with the crowds to grab a bargain.

Soaring inflation has made shopping mall sales especially attractive this season, and saw companies such as Printemps and Landmark department stores offering big savings.

Printemps reduced prices by up to 50 percent, with stores open through the night to attract shoppers.

While the chain store would not reveal its precise sales figure for the weekend, it did say that volume was 10 times the same period of last year.

"The sales volume has exceeded our original goal by a large margin," said Cao Yan, an official with Printemps.

But away from the ringing of cash registers were complaints from big store customers.

A shopper in one store said there were so many people there that shop assistants couldn't find a place to stand and had to perch on chairs to introduce the goods.

"It was terrible," said 24-year-old Shen Jinliu, a white-collar worker who went to the Printemps Wujiaochang branch in Yangpu District over the weekend.

"I tried to force my way out when I couldn't find a place to try on the clothes, but it was another battle to reach the exit."

And after getting out of the store about 1am, Shen had to walk for more than 2 kilometers to get a taxi.

At Landmark on Nanjing Road E., consumers said they had to endure a hot, stuffy environment.

"There were several pregnant women in there," said a shopper named Huo Yingsheng. "I was very worried for their babies."

Some shoppers said the sales were unusually busy due to high inflation.

It surged to a 28-month high in November, with the Consumer Price Index reaching 5.1 percent.

Printemps shopper Shen said she had been waiting for discounts for months, as this year coats, boots and shoes are much more expensive than usual.

"Without discount, a pair of boots would cost more than 2,000 yuan (US$300) and a coat the same," she said.

"And, of course, I cannot afford such expensive stuff, so I can only wait for the discount season."

"I believe that a large number of people had the same idea as me," she added. "And then chaos descended."


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