Monday, 12 November 2007

Consumerism gone mad - 3 dead in shop stampede.

If we needed any reminder that China is at the front line in the unending march of capitalism comes news that 3 people were killed and another 31 injured in a stampede at a "shop sale".

Not a political demonstration, not an over reaction from the police or the army but killed trying to snap up a bargain in the shops. The following quote shows how much things have changed and yet, how much further China has to go.

What was the bargain - a $1.5 reduction on the price of cooking oil. Not TV sets, not designer clothing but a food staple.

He Yu, one of the shoppers combating for the cooking oil, got bruises in his face and hands in the stampede.

From a purely economic perspective it will be interesting to see what the monetary compensation levels will be. What value does China put on the value of a statistical life (bearing in mind it is in the low millions of dollars in the US).

Three dead, 31 injured in stampede in Carrefour outlet's sales promotion [People's Daily]

Three people have died and 31 others were injured, seven severely, in a stampede triggered by sales promotion in a Carrefour outlet in southwest China Saturday.

The three-day promotion at the outlet in the Shapingba District, Chongqing Municipality, was launched Friday to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Carrefour's entering into the market of the city.

People began queuing at the entrance around 4:00 a.m. Saturday, waiting to buy a kind of cooking oil with a much favorable price, said Gao Chang, spokesman for the government of Shapingba District.

The shop offered a deduction of 11.5 yuan (1.5 U.S. dollars) from the original price of 51.4 yuan (6.9 U.S. dollars) for a five-liter bottle of the edible oil.

Around 8:40 a.m. when the shop started its business, throngs of people burst in and a mass stampede occurred.

He Yu, one of the shoppers combating for the cooking oil, got bruises in his face and hands in the stampede.

"I rushed to the oil shelf with other people and grabbed four bottles. Suddenly I was tripped over on the floor. Luckily I got hold of another person and escaped from being crashed," the young man said.

The injured people are being treated in four hospitals in the city.

By 9:00 p.m., three had been discharged from hospital, but one of the seven seriously injured reported critical condition.

"The outlet has been ordered to suspend operation and the work safety watchdog has started an investigation," said Gao.

The outlet has also been told to prepare money to compensate the victims.

The district government issued an urgent notice late Saturday, saying that all departments and organizations in the district must take effective precautionary measures to prevent such things from happening again while organizing public activities.

French retailer giant Carrefour has opened 103 supermarkets in China since it entered the Chinese market in 1995. The latest outlet was opened on Nov. 1 this year in Changchun, capital of northeast China's Jilin Province.

Carrefour entered the market of Chongqing in 1998 and now operates four outlets in the city.

The Shapingba outlet, covering a business area of 7,000 square meters, was opened in May last year as the fourth supermarket of Carrefour in Chongqing.


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