Business / Corporate

Half of Uniqlo, Muji stores closing in virus-hit China

JIJI

Retailers are expanding outlet suspensions in China amid the unfolding coronavirus crisis, with about half of the Uniqlo apparel and Muji household goods stores there being shut.

Fast Retailing Co. has closed about 370 of its 750 Uniqlo outlets in China, up from about 160 in late January, officials said.

With no prospects for reopening in sight, concerns are mounting over the impact the crisis will have on the company’s earnings.

At Ryohin Keikaku Co., some 140 of its 270 Muji stores in China are being shut. Most of the stores have been affected by the voluntary closure of the shopping malls and other commercial facilities that house them.

“It’s up to the decisions of local authorities and the shopping malls” on when to reopen, said a public relations official of Ryohin Keikaku.

Convenience store chain Lawson Inc. is keeping about 200 outlets shut, which is about half its stores in Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak.

Lawson outlets elsewhere in China are also being forced to suspend operations or shorten store hours.

“The retail industry is a lifeline” for local residents, Lawson President Sadanobu Takemasu told a news conference, emphasizing that he wants to keep the China stores open as long as possible.

Aeon Co. in late January adopted shortened business hours for its five full-line supermarkets in Wuhan, which are now running from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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