Parking lots were full, cashiers were busy and shelves were emptying as many revelers spent their first minute of the New Year in the shopping spree that accelerated Shanghai's retail sales for the holiday season.
Thanks to the new three-day holiday schedule which started on December 30, many shoppers crowded stores and rushed for bargains, lured by special deals and extended hours at major shopping centers.
The city's retail sales - as generated by 345 large and medium size retailers - made 1.92 billion yuan (US$263 million) over New Year's Eve and the first day of 2008, an increase of 41.8 percent from the previous year, the Shanghai Economic Commission said yesterday.
Spending over New Year's Eve jumped 51 percent to 826 million yuan and for New Year's Day grew 35 percent to 1.1 billion yuan.
Chen Yuxian, an official with the commission, attributed the New Year spending boom partly to the city celebrations including the Xintiandi Countdown party, and a carnival on Nanjing Road.
The new holiday schedule not only marks a good start for major retailers in Shanghai but also creates a new business opportunity.
"The three-day holiday helps create a spurt in sales as it gives people more leisure time to shop," said Chen.
Department stores and shopping centers helped greatly in the boost to retail sales collecting 809 million yuan, a 54.9 percent growth from a year earlier.
Hypermarkets, supermarkets and convenience stores were also leading contributors to the consumption boom, with revenue up 19.3 percent to 581 million yuan.
Sales at specialty stores jumped 62 percent to 466 million yuan while restaurant incomes also rose 24 percent to 41.45 million yuan.
The Shanghai Nextage Department Store in Pudong ranked first for sales among the city's department stores.
Its sales rose 60.2 percent to 216 million yuan after offering 300 yuan discounts for every single purchase over 500 yuan.
That was followed by the Shanghai Oriental Shopping Center in the Xujiahui commercial district and the New World's Department Store on Nanjing Road.
French retailer Carrefour SA said sales were improved over the three-day holiday by promotions on food, home decorations and electronics.
(Shanghai Daily January 3, 2008)