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December 1, 2012

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Stores go on the offensive to win back customers

DEPARTMENT stores in Shanghai are waging a furious battle to win back customers lost to online business, luring them with staggering offers of iPhones, deep discounts and keeping the doors open well after midnight.

At the Printemps Department Store in the Wujiaochang area, shoppers started lining up early yesterday morning to avail of huge discount offers.

This particular store opens at noon.

In the first three hours after the shutters went up, customers were treated to a 70 yuan (US$11) discount on every 99 yuan spent on selected counters.

After the first three hours, the discount was down to 60 yuan on every 99 yuan spent.

There are altogether 10 outlets of Printemps stores in the city. Today, they stay open as late as 4am.

The stores have also enlisted extra security guards to prevent a stampede.

Customers who shop for clothes and accessories and spend 11,880 yuan between 12:30am and 1am today can win a free iPhone 5.

Those shopping for jewelry and bedding materials have to spend 14,880 yuan to get a free iPhone 5.

As the phones are still not available on the Chinese mainland, customers will be issued a redeem card and can collect the phone at the end of January, according to the stores.

Kitty Xu, an office worker in Shanghai, said she paid 2,800 yuan yesterday for a coat and two pairs of boots.

"It was a good bargain. The price at the department store is almost the same as online vendors," she said.

Xu paid her bills at the Printemps store on Sichuan Road N. at around 11am yesterday.

Other department stores are sure to follow the Printemps store chain in offering deep discounts toward the year-end to lure back consumers who have flocked to the Internet for bargains and wider choices of goods.

Chinese consumers spent 19.1 billion yuan on a 24-hour online shopping spree organized by Taobao Marketplace and Taobao Mall on November 11.

The 50,000-plus merchants on Alibaba's business-to-consumer site Tmall took in 13.2 billion yuan, the company said, after discounts of at least 50 percent were promised on a massive range of goods.

"I've grown used to placing orders online. Queuing up at the cash counter in such a crowded place for hours is really tiring," a microblogger said.


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