Business

Fast Retailing closing all Uniqlo stores in U.S. amid virus spread

Kyodo, Reuters

Fast Retailing Co. said it will temporarily close all 50 of its Uniqlo-brand casual fashion outlets in the United States starting Tuesday due to the spread of the coronavirus.

The move comes after retailers including Nike Inc. and Lululemon Athletica Inc. announced similar closures as the highly contagious respiratory illness spread beyond China.

Following the decision, the number of Uniqlo outlet closures has exceeded 100 worldwide, with 27 in Europe, which has seen a sharp increase in infections in recent weeks.

About 30 of its 750 stores in China are currently shut down, but most of its shops outside Hubei province, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, have reopened. Uniqlo closed about 350 stores in China, as well as some partner factories, a month ago.

The closures have raised fears of a major hit to Uniqlo’s profits. China has been a key growth market for the company, which faces a saturated market and weak consumer spending in Japan.

U.S. President Donald Trump last week declared a national emergency over the coronavirus outbreak. Many museums, entertainment spots and commercial facilities have been closed in the United States, with major sports leagues delaying or pausing their seasons.

Fast Retailing did not make it clear when its stores will reopen, saying it will continue to work closely with U.S. health authorities to grasp the situation accurately.

In Europe, Fast Retailing closed its sole store in Italy last Thursday, all four outlets in Spain on Friday and all 22 shops in France on Saturday.

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