China’s very first Costco outlet opened on Tuesday morning to an insane swarm of shoppers eager to get their hands on bargain goods.
As a result, the establishment, located in Shanghai’s suburban Minhang district, was forced to close in just five hours, CGTN reported.
The retail giant, which first started selling through Alibaba’s Tmall.com a few years ago, offers memberships for 299 yuan ($41) a year in China, according to Xinhua.
Members received text messages on the opening day of its first physical store, which warned them to delay their visit due to the volume of customers.
In now-viral clips, shoppers can be seen forming massive queues, crushing each other across aisles and even fighting over poultry products.
Clearly, the store was unable to keep up, advising prospective shoppers around 2 p.m. to avoid coming at all, Shanghaiist noted.
“The store has been clogged up with crowds,” Costco sent in a text message to customers in China, according to WTKR. “To provide you with better shopping experience, Costco will suspend business in the afternoon. Please don’t come.”
The company also released an apology and capped the number of customers in the store to 2,000.
The outlet covers an expanse of 14,000 square meters (more than 150,000 square feet), along with 1,200 parking spaces. Unfortunately, those spaces fell short on opening day, as management had to put up a sign saying that it takes three hours for new shoppers to find open slots in the parking lot.
Others stood outside for hours under the sweltering 97-degree Fahrenheit weather before managing to get in. Thankfully, no injuries were reported from the rampage.
The shopping craze proves to be understandable as Costco prices for general merchandise tend to be 30% to 60% lower than their market costs. Meanwhile, food prices are priced 10% to 20% less, according to the retailer.
Still, Costco’s long-term performance in the Chinese market is yet to be seen, as many foreign retailers have failed to understand consumer habits and eventually lost to local competitors. In June, French supermarket giant Carrefour had to sell 80% of its China business to a domestic company after repeated losses, the South China Morning Post noted.
Costco’s opening day, however, is not the first time Chinese shoppers have gone into absolute mayhem. In June, locals also went bonkers over a collaboration collection from Japanese fashion outlet Uniqlo and American artist Kaws.
Weibo users commented on Tuesday’s chaos:
“My god. I have no plans of joining in the fun. It’s too scary.”
“It seems Costco had no idea what a Chinese auntie is capable of.”
“This makes me want to praise Hong Kong’s fight for independence.”
“I’m from Shanghai, and now I don’t know if it’s a good or a bad thing.”
“This only shows the people’s pursuit of affordable yet high-quality products.”