Coronavirus: Crunch time looms for general merchandise supply chain

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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”.

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