Global brands continue to shutter stores across China as coronavirus spreads

Widespread temporary store closures continue across China as the coronavirus continues to spread throughout the country. 

Officially, China’s New Year holiday – extended by the government for a week to help reduce the spread of the virus – ended yesterday, but office staff were encouraged to work from home. 

Tech giant Apple said on Friday it hoped to reopen corporate offices and contact centres later this week, but the closure of its physical stores would continue indefinitely. 

As at 10am ICT on Tuesday February 11, 43,108 cases of coronavirus had been confirmed, and 1018 fatalities, almost all of those in Mainland China. However in an encouraging sign, 4048 people had been confirmed as recovered. The mortality rate has edged up slightly to 2.3 per cent with most deaths due to underlying respiratory conditions or pneumonia.  

Brands across fashion, technology and almost every other non-essential retail category continued to shutter stores on the mainland.

VF Corporation, which owns Timberland, Vans, The North Face and Dickies, says 60 per cent of its outlets in Mainland China are closed and those still open have seen “significant declines in retail traffic.”

Muji and Uniqlo have shut about half of their store networks. 

Japanese makeup company Shiseido estimates its China sales were down 55 per cent over Lunar New Year, traditionally a peak selling period. Sales to foreign tourists through Japanese retail outlets were down by 40 per cent. The company has launched the Relay of Love Project, “in the hope that everyone affected may return to health and safety as soon as possible”.

In addition to 1 million CNY (US$143,000) already donated to the Charity Federation of Wuhan, Shiseido will donate a further 10 million CNY ($1.43 million) to the Shanghai Charity Foundation and 1 per cent of sales from Asian markets will be reserved for other assistance. 

UK luxury-fashion label Burberry has closed 24 of its 64 stores in China and says those still trading – under reduced hours – have experienced “significant footfall declines”.

The parent of Kate Spade, Coach and Stuart Weitzman, Tapestry, says it has closed the majority of its stores in China. 

Capri Holdings says that about 150 of its 250 stores trading under the Michael Kors, Versace and Jimmy Choo banners are closed. 

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