Coronavirus: Crunch time looms for general merchandise supply chain

container ship

The next month will be a make or break period for many retailers desperate to avoid empty shelves as the coronavirus crisis and its impact on the supply chain intensifies.

As the virus continues to wreak havoc across China and new diagnoses emerge in Italy and Iran, the pressure is mounting on retail supply chains, as acknowledged today by fashion giant Primark, which warned of the possibility of product shortages this year.

It is not just fashion retailers that are concerned. General merchandise retailers selling anything from games to gardening goods are increasingly worried, and several retail chiefs told Retail Week the next four to six weeks will be critical for Chinese supply to return to normal – or at least show some big signs of recovery – in China to avoid product shortages.

One value retail boss has said “a big bubble is building” in the supply chain, which will impact product availability “over the next four to six weeks”, while one home goods and furniture chief executive anticipated that supply problems would “start to hit home in four weeks” and result in “customer issues”.

Subscription content

Please sign in now if you have a subscription or are already registered with us.

Retail Week

Register for free to continue reading provides premium, in-depth intelligence that helps retailers judge risks, spot opportunities and identify what they need to do to win in the digital economy.

Register today for a taste of our high-quality intelligence and enjoy:

  • Two free article views per calendar month on
  • Detailed analysis of current trends and events 
  • Exclusive newsletters
  • In-depth reports, videos, interviews and much more

Discover Retail Week register now

Please note, if you have recently purchased a subscription, it may take a few minutes before your account is updated.