Carrefour cuts prices in China to boost sales

French retail giant Carrefour will cut the prices of selected goods at its 125 outlets in China from Friday through Feb. 9 to boost sales amid the global financial crisis.

The prices of rice, cooking oil, candy, wine, food, festival gifts and other commodities, will be slashed by 20 to 30 percent, said Li Jia, media relations manager for Carrefour’s South China division.

The promotion, said to be the largest since Carrefour entered the Chinese market in 1995, would be initially launched at 23 Carrefour outlets in southern China regions, Li said.

“Carrefour is taking this move to answer the call of the central government to stimulate consumption and expand domestic demand,” Li said.

“The company also hopes to help consumers spend less against the backdrop of economic downturn.”

Earlier this month, U.S. retail giant Wal-Mart started offering discounts of up to 20 percent on an average of 1,000 items at its 119 stores in China.

Analysts forecast retailing industry would experience a low season between February and April next year as the global financial crisis worsens.

“Retailers all hope to seize the market ahead of others through lowering prices,” said Sun Xiong, chairman of the Guangdong Provincial Chain Store and Franchise Association.

The Lunar Chinese New Year, or the Spring Festival, will fall on Jan. 26. It is usually a gold season for shopping before and after the festival, the most important occasion in the Chinese year.

Also Thursday, U.S. fast-food giant KFC began reducing its prices by up to 20 percent at almost 1,400 outlets in China. The promotion will last until Feb. 3. The company said it is reducing prices to boost domestic demand amid the financial crisis.

Earlier this month, McDonald’s also started offering discounts of up to 30 percent at its outlets in Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Nanjing. It said it would consider expanding the promotion to more cities if market feedback proves good.

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