Chinese department store lavatory costs €570 to use
A department store in China has installed a public lavatory only open to shoppers who spend a minimum of €570, illustrating the widening gap between the country's rich and poor.
Only the biggest-spending customers at the Starlight 68 department store, in the heart of the central city of Chongqing, are permitted to use the VIP lavatories on the first floor.
Customers spending a minimum of 5000 yuan (€570) are given a loyalty card that they need to access the loos, and also entitles them to a 10pc discount on certain brands.
A spokesman for the store warned however that the price of the card may yet go up.
"This was a special offer for the store's opening. In the future, it may be difficult to get a VIP card for such a cheap spend," he said, to the Chongqing New Express newspaper.
The newspaper said there was little difference between the VIP facilities and the normal lavatory, except for the aura of exclusivity.
"This is a privilege for VIPs, others cannot use it. That's the privilege," said one member of staff.
Chongqing has repeatedly made the news for its eccentric public lavatories. In 2006, the city unveiled outdoor standing lavatories for men without booths and with only a small saloon door to protect one's privacy.
The following year, the city opened the world's largest public lavatory, which can accommodate 1,000 people over four floors and which featured crocodile and Virgin Mary themed urinals.