Several Edmonton businesses are seeing holes in their inventory as a result of disruptions in manufacturing in China thanks to the new coronavirus.
The Chinese government extended the Lunar New Year holiday to keep factories and offices closed. Controls imposed on business to try to stem the spread of infection extend nationwide, affecting tens of thousands of companies and hundreds of millions of employees.
However, China’s vast manufacturing industries cannot function without workers in factories.
Connie Lang, showroom sales manager for Best Plumbing, has been with the company for eight years and has never seen anything like this.
Lang said approximately 40 per cent of the company’s inventory is a house brand that is made in China.
“We’ve been delayed on our product. They’re telling us now until at least the end of the month, which could affect us by probably likely 30 days,” Lang said.
Lang said products such as vanities, shower doors and tubs are not being delivered as a result.
“It’s very frustrating. The thing is, we pride ourselves in giving good customer service and being able to deliver in a timely manner and having that disruption is definitely a problem for us,” she said.
Lang said the delays in delivery are affecting the company’s bottom line because they are substituting for products that are available but at a higher price.
It’s a similar story for Suits by Curtis Eliot in downtown Edmonton, which designs and orders custom suits from a manufacturer in China.
Owner Sean Farmer said there is a minimum 10-day delay in getting products imported.
“Our entire business is based on custom. We don’t have things hanging on the rack for people buying so it really is impactful,” he said.
Farmer said most customers order a suit for a function or special event in a few weeks, meaning the delays are hurting his customer service.
“The fact is, we’ve always prided ourselves on the efficiency of our business and our ability to turn clothing fairly quickly,” he said.
In order to meet deadlines for summer goods, retail experts say that Chinese factories would need to start ramping up production by March 15. If Chinese factories were instead to remain idle through May 1, it would likely cripple retailers’ crucial back-to-school and fall seasons.
-with files from the Associated Press