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Crowds force Costco to close Virgin China store early on opening day

FILE PHOTO: Imported Wavestorm Surfboards Display for Sale at a Costco in Carlsbad, California, USA, May 16, 2019. REUTERS / Mike Blake / File Photo

SHANGHAI (Reuters) ̵[ads1]1; United States Hypermarket Chain Costco Wholesale Corp ( COST.O ) was forced to close its first store in China early on Tuesday, according to state media, after large crowds poured through the door, causing traffic jams in the Shanghai neighborhood.

Videos posted on Chinese social media showed thousands of people in need of shopping in Shanghai's Minhang district, while signs outside warned incoming buyers that they might have to wait three hours to park.

A nearby school sent counseling to parents who warned them about traffic conditions. "Please expect the termination of students this afternoon to be sharply delayed due to the grand opening of Costco Supermarket," the statement said.

The Paper, a media outlet run by the Shanghai government, reported on social media at 2:43 p.m. (0622 GMT) that the store had closed early, citing the local district government.

"Because of the extremely large crowds in the newly opened supermarket, we urge for public safety that the citizens consume in a rational way and choose to shop in a foreign era," the government quoted it as saying.

Costco did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Last year, Costco announced that they would open their first store in China. It first entered the country in 2014 by opening an online store at Alibaba Group Holding Ltd ( BABA.N ) Tmall online marketplace.

The busy first day came as other major Western retailers such as Amazon ( AMZN.O ), Tesco Plc ( TSCO.L ) and Carrefour ( CARR .PA ) withdraws from China, which has struggled to gain market share in the face of strong competition from domestic competitors.

Reporting by Brenda Goh, David Stanway and John Ruwitch; Editing by Susan Fenton

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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