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Retail Sales Soar in June
shanghai's retail sales in June rallied 13.3 percent as consumers splurged after tightening their purse strings during the severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak.

Retail sales hit 18.2 billion yuan (US$2.2 billion) last month compared with a year ago, Shanghai Commercial Commission reported yesterday. In May, the year-on-year growth rate was only 4.2 percent.

For the first half of this year, Shanghai retailers garnered 108.4 billion in retail sales, a rise of 8.8 percent compared with the same period last year, the commission said.

The commission had expected only 107 billion yuan in retail sales in the first half.

"The June rebound fuelled the sales in the first half," said Chen Yuxian, a com-mission official. "As SARS fears wane, retailers are enjoying a shopping spree which they couldn't enjoy in May or April."

Chen said local restaurants recovered to almost 90 percent of their business before the SARS outbreak, while sales in local department stores have surpassed the level before the virus hit.

To further boost the city's retail sector in summer, often a slow season for retailers, major shopping districts are planning promotions to attract even more shoppers.

The Nanjing Road Pedestrian Mall, China's premier shopping street, will be the city's first to launch large-scale promotions after the SARS outbreak.

Under the slogan of "Cool and Healthy," the street's 66 major retailers are encouraging consumers to settle their purchases with bank cards to get a chance to win in a lucky draw.

From Friday through August 10, consumers buying goods worth more than 200 yuan with bank cards issued by the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China will have the chance to win in an autumn lucky draw, which has 200,000 prizes. The top prize is worth 5,000 yuan.

Last year, about 10 percent of Shanghai's retail sales were transacted by bank cards, 3 percentage points higher than in 2001. However, this pales in comparison with the rate in developed countries which averages 40 percent.

"The move aims to further build up the popularity of bankcard usage which the city government is encouraging," said Li Deming, an official with Huangpu District Economic and Trade Commission, one of the sponsors.

Some of the department stores on the street are also renovating in the hope of snaring a bigger market share in the coming months.

The New World City began construction on a 200,000-square-meter shopping mall on Xizang Road at the end of last month. When it reopens early next month, it will feature high- and middle-end new fashions.

(eastday.com July 8, 2003)

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