February News: Insights From Peter Hirsch On The Coronavirus

Last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) made the Coronavirus officially a public health emergency of international concern. Everyone around the world nodded in unison and said, “No kidding.”

Thankfully, the virus has not proven as deadly as previous viruses at this point, but it’s certainly causing serious havoc around the globe. China remains the epicenter of the outbreak. All but 1% of cases are in China, and 34% are in Wuhan, which is on a citywide lockdown.

There’s a lot of confusion, questions, and concern about how the Coronavirus will interrupt business and continue to spread. We talked with Peter Hirsch, of Hirsch Gift, to get a supplier’s perspective on the two biggest questions we’ve seen across social media from the Promotional Products industry. The following is an unedited interview with Peter Hirsch.

“Peter, what are the two biggest questions you’re seeing regarding the Coronavirus?”

Here is what I think are the important factors to consider from a business perspective in dealing with fallout from the CoronaVirus:

1) Supply chain disruption

Factories in many regions in China are going to open late, we don’t know exactly when but somewhere between mid to end February, this is up to a month later than the normal start up after CNY. There will likely be issues of staffing as workers from Wuhan and other areas will not be able to travel back to factories until travel restrictions are lifted. 

The result of all this will be that instead of the normal planned one month delay in products from China, the first shipments will probably only arrive in the USA in May compared to April assuming a 60 day production/shipping cycle. Some products with longer cycles much later.

Suppliers with deeper inventories, domestic manufacturers and manufactured products from other countries will be in a better position to handle this issue.

Good advice for distributors would be to advise customers to place orders as early as possible if delivery is required in the next 6 months, that way avoiding disappointment or last-minute scrambling to find alternative choices. 

2) What risk is there of getting the Corona Virus from product/boxes shipped out of China?

According to World Health Organization (WTO) the virus does not last more than a few hours on objects and taking into account aired and seafreight products to the USA all take from days to a month to ship, there is no risk.


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