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China's economic uncertainty fuels boom in soon-to-expire food

Middle-class shoppers hunt for bargains as concern grows over jobs and pay

A Hotmaxx store in Guangzhou. The chain has grown to more than 500 locations since it was founded about two years ago. (Photo by Yusuke Hinata)

GUANGZHOU -- As COVID-19 weighs on China's economy, a growing number of retailers are wooing budget-conscious shoppers by offering food and drink about to expire at rock-bottom prices.

Deeply discounted products, from snacks to instant foods and beverages, line the shelves at a discount HotMaxx supermarket in Guangzhou. Canned meat is priced roughly 40% less than in rival stores, while Japanese potato chips are priced at half or less.

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