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November 18, 2011

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Genuine buyers lose out in Versace rush

HUNDREDS of shoppers were in the queue when items designed by Versace for the high street retailer H&M went on sale in Shanghai yesterday.

Not long after, however, many of the limited edition items were being sold online at inflated prices and even changing hands outside the stores on Huaihai Road and Nanjing Road W.

Many of the people who lined up from the night before were said to be online vendors. Others were hawkers who started selling their purchases as soon as they left the stores. But they soon attracted the attention of city watchdogs who despatched officials to send them on their way.

On, items from the Versace collection were on sale at almost double the price in the stores.

There was even a roaring trade in spaces in the queue with wristbands guaranteeing good places being offered at hundreds to thousands of yuan.

One woman in line said she was an ayi and came not with the intention of buying clothes but to sell her space in the queue. She learned that the first number sold for 5,000 yuan (US$787) last year in a similar collaboration between Lanvin and H&M.

The queue outside the Huaihai Road store started forming at around 10am on Wednesday.

Drawing lessons from last year, the store tried to prevent reselling by limiting each customer's stay to 15 minutes and allowing each customer to buy just one of each style of item.

But the effort seemed to have been in vain with online vendors and hawkers working in conjunction and at speed and redistributing their haul so that they reached the pay desk with just one of each available item.

"The first to the 25th customers are all online vendors and we cooperated together," the first people in line told the Oriental Morning Post.

The stores started selling the designer items at 8am and the 560 customers who received wristbands recording their place in the queue had finished their shopping spree by noon. Customers without wristbands were allowed in with no time limit after that. By 6pm, more than 90 percent of the Versace for H&M items had been sold out.

"I am a huge fan of Versace and I like its glamorous style. The special design embellished with sequins and studs looks amazingly punk," said Coco Wang, whose husband waited 16 hours in line for her to purchase clothes and accessories worth more than 7,500 yuan.

A Shanghai Normal University student surnamed Ge bought 13 pieces worth nearly 20,000 yuan. She said she was buying not only for herself but also for classmates and friends.

"They will pay me," she said. "If they don't, I can return the goods to the store with no loss within three days," she said.

Shoppers inside the store who couldn't find what they wanted were soon regaled by hawkers outside offering them the items they had been looking for at hundreds of yuan more than the original price.


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