The rush to get big discounts in annual sales is followed by a return to caution It took only 60 seconds for department store Sincere to rack up almost $27,000 in sales - thanks to demand for a heavily marked down mobile phone - but many shoppers were being more cautious in their spending. As the store's annual sale began yesterday, signs that consumers were eyeing their purchases carefully despite the economic rebound were not hard to find. Sincere's one-week 'crazy sale' is taking place at Central, Mongkok and Shamshuipo branches. More than 100 customers queued at the Central store - 10 staying overnight - while 80 had waited since 5.30am for the shop in Mongkok to open. The hottest item was Sony Ericsson S-700i mobile phone, which is also a camera and MP3 player. The sale price was $2,999, almost half the original price of $5,680. A spokeswoman for Sincere said that the first three customers at each branch were given waiting tickets for the phone, and the transactions were completed within one minute. Prices for other items, ranging from clothes to houseware, were down by 40 to 80 per cent. After the morning flurry, activity returned to normal. Despite the reductions, some customers said they were using their lunch hour only to 'look around'. Among them was Allen Wong Chung-yin, who works in the finance field. He said he was checking out the TV and audio equipment, but had no plans to buy. Housewife Chiu Mei-yin, who bought a stack of towels, said that she would only buy essentials. Sincere's spokeswoman said she expected this year's sale to be an improvement over last year. 'Judging from the VIP sale which was started last week, things are looking good,' she said. Bankee Kwan Pak-hoo, chairman of the Hong Kong Retail Management Association, said the retail industry was 'cautiously optimistic' about the future. He said that prices had increased only moderately but the public was still spending cautiously because incomes were stagnating. 'The unemployment rate is still high and we don't see a significant rise in household income. The mass public's net disposable income still has not increased,' said Mr Kwan. 'There's still a 20 per cent difference when you compare the present business with that in 1997. There's still a long way to full recovery. We expect there would be only a single digit increase [in trade] next year,' Mr Kwan said. Legislator Vincent Fang Kang, who represents the retail and wholesale functional constituency, said the economy was still not as good as the government described. Sincere rival Wing On's annual sale starts tomorrow.