US supermarket giant Costco has been hit by a wave of membership withdrawals in China just a week after it made a roaring debut in Shanghai as consumers were disappointed that the huge discounts on items ranging from Kweichow Moutai liquor to Hermes’ Birkin bags had ended. Dozens of shoppers who had paid 299 yuan (US$41.73) to obtain a membership card were seen queuing up to cancel it and get a refund on Tuesday evening. Costco said it had registered more than 100,000 members in Shanghai. The company could not be reached for comment on its membership status in Shanghai on Wednesday. The outlet in Minhang, about 30km from the city centre, is open to members only, who can withdraw their membership and get their registration fee back within 90 days. Some shoppers on Tuesday complained that prices of food products and daily necessities appeared to be higher than those sold on e-commerce platforms and at other retailers. Thousands of people flocked to the warehouse-style retailer’s 14,000 square metres (150,640 sq ft) store on August 27, only to see operations suspended later that afternoon because of safety concerns as police found it difficult to control the crowds. The items most sought after by the shoppers, such as Kweichow Moutai and Wuliangye liquor, were quickly sold out. Moutai liquor, which sported a price tag of 1,498 yuan for the first three days, was 400 yuan cheaper than elsewhere. A man surnamed Zhou, who was among the first-day shoppers, said that his goal was not to buy the items for himself, but to resell them on online e-commerce platforms for a profit. Moutai was his prime target because it can be easily sold at a premium of 300 yuan. During the first opening day, South Korean luxury brand MCM’s leather backpack was sold at 4,399 yuan, about 1,100 yuan lower than on e-commerce platform Tmall. Two security guards said the euphoria of the first few days had ebbed, but the store still attracted thousands of shoppers daily. “I registered to gain access to the store and have a look,” said Li Yan, a 40-year-old shopper. “But based on the present retail prices, I don’t think it’s worth a more than one hour of bus and metro ride to buy items here.” Low-price strategy is often used by mainland retailers to woo customers during the opening few days of operations. It often turns out to be a temporary phenomenon after the discounted items are sold out. “Chinese people are enthusiastic when it comes to hunting for bargains,” said Zhou Qinggang, chief executive of Chongming Kaixin Farm, which produces and markets agricultural products. “It is not unusual that they rush to buy goods when a store debuts while never coming back afterwards.” The latest data by market research firm Kantar Worldpanel showed that foreign retailers were losing market share in mainland China amid the rising penetration of e-commerce. In June, French retailer Carrefour announced plans to sell an 80 per cent stake in its China operations to mainland electronics retailer and e-commerce giant Suning.