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Retail Sales Shoot up 40% During Holidays
The latest round of "holiday economics" - during the weeklong Spring Festival holidays - has generated a huge payoff, according to the Shanghai Commercial Commission.

During the eight-day period from January 20 to Saturday, the city's 130 leading retailers reported sales of 2.4 billion yuan (US$289 million), skyrocketing 39.5 percent over the same period of last year, commission officials said.

According to the theory of holiday economics, people, with more spare time, tend to spend more, helping to revive a slumbering retail sector and reduce rising inventory in the nation's warehouses.

Holiday economics would come into play, its proponents say, during the weeklong holidays at Spring Festival, National Day and Labor Day. This year, Wednesday marked the start of the seven-day Spring Festival, heralding the arrival of the Year of the Snake.

Although the weather was chilly and rainy, the Lunar New Year holidays still unleashed a shopping frenzy with consumers flocking to local retailers in record numbers, commission officials said.

"Spring Festival is a time when Chinese people are in the mood to splurge by eating and giving," said Shen Jianping, a spokesman for Shanghai No. 6 Department Store in the Xujiahui commercial area.

From January 20 to Saturday, sales along the Nanjing Road Pedestrian Mall rose 27.73 percent year-on-year to 277 million yuan, while retailers at Xujiahui posted a 31.9 percent increase, according to commission data. Other major shopping streets also enjoyed a double-digit growth rate.

Supermarkets and hypermarkets were the biggest lures, accounting for 67 percent of total retail sales, commission officials said.

Eating is perhaps the major activity during Spring Festival, and Nianyefan - the Lunar New Year's Eve dinner - is an important holiday gathering.

The Commercial Commission initiated a campaign to have the city's 108 supermarket outlets display 600 varieties of ready-to-cook dishes.

Sales at supermarkets and hypermarkets from January 20 to Saturday surged 51.9 percent to 1.6 billion yuan, commission officials said.

At the New Road Hualian GMS, weekly sales soared 72.1 percent to 10.8 million yuan. Other supermarkets all reported increases of at least 50 percent.

Department stores also saw their sales climb 20.9 percent to 646 million yuan, commission officials said.

"Clothes, healthcare products and mobile phones are the top sellers, which accounted for half of the sales in the department stores," said Chen Yuxian, a senior commission official. "With the weather turning clear on Friday, more people came out for sightseeing and shopping."

(Eastday 01/29/01)

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