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Further store closures as coronavirus cases rise

The number of infections from the coronavirus has risen sharply after health officials in China’s Hubei formed a new broader definition used to diagnose cases, leading to further store closures and supply chain issues in the country.

Nearly 15,000 new cases were confirmed in Hubei on Thursday, mostly in the capital, Wuhan. This brings the number of confirmed infections to around 60,000. In total, at least 1,350 people have died from the virus, mostly in Hubei. 

Analyst Peel Hunt said: “This does support accusations of China initially under reporting the extent of the outbreak. It remains to be seen whether this level of new cases per day is a one-time revision or a new norm.

“Companies are reporting layers of supply chain issues after the extended Chinese New Year (CNY), with many factory shut downs continuing.”

Luxury fashion group Kering has announced that 50% of its China store network is closed, with those open working on reduced hours. New openings, product launches and advertising campaigns have been shelved, and its inventory is being reallocated to other regions.

Italian luxury brand Moncler stated that 33% of its Chinese stores are closed and shopper numbers are down by 80%, as residents in mainland Chinese cities keep themselves at home. 

Meanwhile, Ralph Lauren said two-thirds of stores in China have been closed over the past week. It is expecting a broader impact across its businesses in China and Asia due to significantly reduced travel and retail traffic. 

Chinese retail giant Alibaba expects challenges to the business “across the board”. However, Peel Hunt said Alibaba “could benefit in the future as the lockdowns trapping people inside their homes encourage consumers to shift more purchases online”.

It comes after Drapers revealed earlier this week that luxury brands and retailers in the UK are bracing for a significant downturn in footfall and sales as the spread of coronavirus amplifies.

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