Costco has built a cult following in the United States — now it’s China’s turn. The country’s first Costco store is so popular that it had to shut down early on its first day because of too many shoppers.
The retailer opened its first physical outlet in Shanghai on Tuesday morning, and it quickly got too crowded to stay open.
“The store has been clogged up with crowds,” Costco said in a text message alert to its members in China. “To provide you with better shopping experience, Costco will suspend business in the afternoon. Please don’t come.”
Police were deployed to restore order and manage traffic jams around the store, with law enforcement urging people to remain calm.
“For your safety, we hope citizens who want to go to Costco can maintain a rational attitude about consumption and avoid going out during rush hours. Those who have already gone there, you must follow orders,” the Shanghai police said in a statement on its verified account on Chinese social network Weibo.
The photos posted by police with the statement included one of a sign Costco put up outside the store, which read: “The parking lot is full. It takes three hours to wait.”
The company even issued an apology on social media for Chinese customers Wednesday, adding that it will put a cap on the number of customers allowed in the store to 2,000 and work with local police to “lessen the disturbance” to its neighbors.
The road ahead
While Costco has had an online presence in China for five years through a partnership with Chinese e-commerce firm Alibaba (BABA), the new brick-and-mortar store in Shanghai marks a significant investment.