Doing its part to improve Sino-U.S. relations, Wal-Mart will officially open to its first Shanghainese patrons on July 28. Although construction is not yet complete at the intersection of Linyi Bei Lu (临沂北路) and Long Yang Lu (龙阳路) near the Nanpu Bridge, the Jiefang Morning News reports that the anticipation of Wal-Mart’s infamous “everyday low prices” (天天平价 or tian tian ping jia) has the proprietors of neighboring “mom and pop” stores bracing for what will surely be a huge negative impact on their business.
While securing a place in the neighborhood might have been easy, securing a foothold in the Shanghai market might prove otherwise — the new, 18,000-square meter (184,000 square feet) superstore enters a market where competitors Carrefour, Metro A.G. and Tesco PLC are firmly entrenched. In 2005, Wal-Mart is just one of 28 new “hypermarkets” (stores that carry goods found in both supermarkets and department stores) set to open, joining 97 already in operation.
The Shanghai branch will be site of Wal-Mart’s 48th grand opening on the Chinese mainland. For some idea of what to expect, Fortune Magazine offers a glimpse of opening day for Wal-Mart China #47 in Chongqing on June 30:
There’s a giddy rush when doors swing wide at 7:30 a.m. … By 8 a.m. the queue for rotisserie chicken at 85 cents a bird is 50 people long. … At 9:30, a cadre of local officials joins Wal-Mart’s Asia CEO, Joe Hatfield, for a ceremony on the public square outside. There’s a brass band, fire-breathing Sichuan opera dancers, and a traditional lion dance. … Inside, each of the store’s 75 checkout lanes is backed up 15 customers deep. By closing time at 10 p.m., 120,000 customers have trooped through the doors.
With the opening of the first Shanghai branch days away, Shanghaiist has two words for you: expect pandemonium.
The Wal-Mart You Don’t Know
Wal-Mart China (沃尔玛中国)
UPDATE:E-Mart spreading wings in Shanghai (China Daily)
Photo from explainplease.com.