Costco’s First Outlet in China Embraced by a Throng of Shoppers on Opening Day

The crowds and traffic snarls were so overwhelming, the Washington-based retailer was forced to close the store early
Updated: Wed, 08/28/2019 - 08:50
 
 
  • The crowds and traffic snarls were so overwhelming, the Washington-based retailer was forced to close the store early
A panorama of the Shanghai skyline.

Despite the escalating trade tensions between the United States and China, Issaquah-based retail giant Costco stayed the course and unveiled its first warehouse store in China this week to what can best be described as a paralyzing reception.

In fact, it was so overwhelming that Costco had to close the new Shanghai outlet early on Tuesday, its opening day, because of traffic jams and overcrowding caused by a rush of enthusiastic Chinese shoppers, media reports indicate.

“The store has been clogged up with crowds," Costco said in a text message alert to its members in China, per a CNN report. “To provide you with better shopping experience, Costco will suspend business in the afternoon. Please don't come.”

Costco now plans to limit the number of shoppers in the new Shanghai store to 2,000, with local police deployed to help control traffic congestion, Reuters reports. Videos posted on social media of the Costco-shopper onslaught in Shanghai yesterday have been aggregated and re-posted by MarketWatch.

“Due to the extremely large crowds at the newly opened supermarket, for the safety of the public, we urge that residents consume in a rational manner and choose to go shopping at an off-peak time,” The Paper, a Chinese media outlet, reported ― according to MarketWatch. 

As Costco steps forward in China with a brick-and-mortar outlet that appears be getting a Beatlemania-like reception from Chinese consumers, other mega-retailers ― such as Seattle-based Amazon, United Kingdom-based Tesco and France’s Carrefour, are retrenching, however, because of strong competition from Chinese retailers, according to a CNBC report.

Costco opened its first discount warehouse on Sept. 15, 1983, at 4401 Fourth Ave. in Seattle. The Washington retail giant now operates some 776 warehouse stores across the U.S., Puerto Rico and in nearly a dozen foreign lands, stretching from Japan to Mexico ― and now China. Costco employs more than 163,000 people and claims more than 97 million cardholding members.

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