Nanjing Sees Festival Sales Frenzy

Traffic was paralyzed last evening in the downtown area of this capital of East China's Jiangsu Province as local residents went on a shopping spree before the Chinese Lunar New Year, which falls on February 12.

Xinjiekou District, where the frenzy started, became so crowded yesterday that 200 policemen were brought in to maintain order.

Nanjing's holiday sales, with all products priced at 30-90 per cent off, began several weeks earlier than usual this year and have created price wars involving almost all department stores here, said Liao Jiansheng, general manager of the Nanjing Zhongyang Department Store, which is located in Xinjiekou District.

Liao said Nanjing Xinjiekou Department Store, which initiated the price war with its sales on Saturday morning, was followed by six other large department stores within half an hour.

The sales initiative by the Nanjing Xinjiekou Department Store brought in revenue of 10 million yuan (US$1.2 million) over the weekend, according to the store's assistant to the general manager, Jin Zhiyin.

The sales frenzy created joy as well as unrestrained purchasing among shoppers. "I had planned to buy a red cashmere dress for the Lunar New Year but actually bought a dress, a cashmere overcoat, three sweaters, three pairs of trousers and a coffee-making machine," said Wang Haiyan, an employee at a local branch of the Bank of Communications.

But some product suppliers failed to be cheered by the booming sales. "I am forced into this New Year sales. The stores say they will clear my products out if I don't obey them," said Huang Qimin, a costume producer from Shanghai.

According to Huang, the stores deduct their share of the profits from the earned sales revenue, while all the risks, losses and promotion expenses are borne by the producers.

"In Nanjing's consumer market, the Chinese Lunar New Year is the most important time for department stores to cater to consumers," said Zhu Jianguo, official of the Nanjing Municipal Bureau of Commerce.

( China Daily January 23, 2002)

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