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Coronavirus Likely to Hit Merchandise for Meetings

Prolonged quarantines in China could choke off product and apparel availability, possibly for months.

While planners of upcoming meetings that have international attendees must create safeguards against the possible spread of coronavirus among attendees, there’s yet another complication on the horizon: Some makers of apparel and products often used as promotional giveaways and attendee gifts are presently crippled by quarantines throughout China. Factories are idle even after the planned-for Lunar New Year week of celebration that doubled as a quarantine period, and they will continue to be idle for an undetermined amount of time.

This means that popular apparel brands such as UnderArmour are unable to fulfill large orders, according to a report by CNBC, while electronic products such as portable power banks and thumb drives as well as accessories such as earbuds could be delayed in production and delivery for months. Given China’s growth in global economic importance since the SARS epidemic—the country now generates 16 percent of global GDP versus four percent in 2003—the ramifications of a prolonged coronavirus outbreak might be felt across the business world for much of 2020.

Planners would be wise to make product and apparel choices, investigate supply chains, and act well ahead of time to procure the merchandise they’ll need for their 2020 events.

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