First Costco in China creates frenzy in Shanghai — overcrowded store shuts down on day one for safety concerns

Society & Culture

The U.S.-China trade war might be worsening at an alarming rate, but that has not deterred Chinese customers from going crazy over American retail giant Costco, which finally descended upon mainland China on August 27, to big crowds of eager consumers lining up to get in before the store was forced to shut down over safety concerns.

Located in Shanghai, the store officially opened on Tuesday after months of anticipation. Numerous posts on Chinese social media captured the frenzied scene of local shoppers swarming the store the second its doors were flung open in the morning.

The parking lot was completely packed, which prompted the store to dispatch an employee to hold a sign on the road warning incoming customers that the wait was an excruciating three hours.

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For those who were lucky enough to enter the store, the wait time to check out was two hours.

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Around 11 a.m., Costco Shanghai started to persuade would-be customers to leave due to excessive traffic in the store. Meanwhile, police officers were called in to maintain orders.

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Merely two hours later, the store decided to halt its opening day due to crowd and safety worries.

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But does Costco Shanghai really live up to all the hype? Just like Costco stores in the U.S., the membership-only warehouse club in Shanghai relies on the company’s signature bulk-selling model. The annual fee for membership is 299 yuan ($42), which comes with a string of benefits such as a 90-day return policy for electronic products and free cancellation of membership with a full refund.

According to Shangguan News (in Chinese), a Shanghai-based digital news publication, most customers appeared to be satisfied with the deals offered by Shanghai Costco, where items were generally cheaper than at other retailers in the market.