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February 20, 2010

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Shanghai shoppers spring into action

The purse-strings are well and truly opened as Spring Festival holiday spending hit a record of about 5 billion yuan (US$731.95 million) in Shanghai.

Commerce authorities believe recovering consumer confidence about the economy is the linchpin.

A sample investigation into the Spring Festival sales market in the city found that the 460 major local retail and service companies turned over the amount during the week-long holiday that started on February 13, the Shanghai Commerce Commission said yesterday.

The result was the highest since 1999 when the commission first started compiling these statistics.

It eclipsed last year'sSpring Festival holiday total by 15.8 percent, the commission said.

Retailers citywide also lent a hand by offering extensive discounts during the break.

"It was the first time in 57 years that Valentine's Day was the first day of the Lunar New Year," said Chen Yuxian, a commission official. "Holiday spending was definitely enhanced by the nice coincidence."

During the seven days, city supermarkets and convenience stores took 2.29 billion yuan, up 13.1 percent from a year earlier.

Online rush

"Supermarkets still remain the most attractive shopping location for consumers when they need to choose giftsand food for the festival," Chen said.

However, television and Internet retailers gained the biggest sales growth from a year earlier.

The sales investigation found online and TV shopping deals completed during the period soared by 28.2 percent from 2009.

The holiday tourism industry also boomed, thanks to the recovering economy and the approach of the Shanghai 2010 World Expo.

The city received about 2.6 million tourists from both home and abroad during the holiday, up about 5 percent year on year.

Tourism revenue reached nearly 2.2 billion yuan for the period, up about 10 percent on last year, according to the Shanghai Holiday Office.

Scenic spots and Expo-themed events proved hugely popular.

For example, The Year of the Tiger and Expo Lantern Temple Fair at the Yuyuan Garden was the hottest event in the city, receiving more than 2.2 million visitors.

The Expo-oriented exhibition on peonies at the Shanghai Botanical Garden and the Expo Puzzle Temple Fair at Guyi Garden received more tourists than last year's Spring Festival, officials said.

Bird's-eye view

There was also a visitor increase to the Pudong New Area skyscrapers, such as the observatory of the Jinmao Tower and the Shanghai World Financial Center.

Officials said this was largely because more people wanted to see a bird's-eye view of the World Expo site.

"The Expo effect has started working in the city, helping the whole tourism industry to bounce back after the world economic downturn," said Li Ping, a holiday office official.

The number of Shanghai people who went abroad during the holiday also spiked sharply.

More than 59,440 people in about 3,000 tour groups went abroad, up a whopping 46 percent from last year's break.

Asian countries were still the most popular destinations for Shanghai residents.

As for the domestic market, north China and south China reigned supreme.

People either chose skiing in the north or sunshine in the south, the holiday office said.


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