How Does the Coronavirus Impact the Promotional Products Industry?

Coronavirus affecting the Port of Hong Kong

What is the Coronavirus?

The Coronavirus is part of a large family of viruses found in both animals and humans. The virus infects people and can cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The 2019 Novel Coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV, is a new respiratory virus that was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. We wanted to share the information we have on Coronavirus and the promotional product industry.

Can the Coronavirus spread through packaging or products?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suggests it’s unlikely coronavirus can spread via promotional products shipped from China. The CDC notes “In general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures… Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread most often by respiratory droplets. Currently, there is no evidence to support transmission of 2019-nCoV associated with imported goods and there have not been any cases of 2019-nCoV in the United States associated with imported goods.” Check out the FAQ on its website for more info.

How is the Coronavirus impacting the Promotional Products Industry?

In short, the Coronavirus is causing disruption in the promotional products industry. The Chinese government extended Chinese New Year, a national celebration that includes the closure of essentially all manufacturing in the country by one week, putting additional pressure on factories at an already busy time of year. Adding to that, there are internal travel restrictions that are impeding the ability of workers to return to their jobs after the holiday break.

There are more than a dozen countries with travel bans to China – meaning the usual movement of people into the country is restricted. Officials in China and Hong Kong took drastic steps to check the spread of the virus. Beijing suspended outbound transportation from Wuhan, a transportation hub for moving goods from China’s interior to the coast for shipping abroad. Hong Kong limited movement of mainland Chinese people into the territory by suspending high-speed cross-border rail service and all cross-border ferry services.

A recent industry article from ASI quoted Trevor Gnesin, CEO of Logomark, as saying management at Chinese factories from which Top 40 suppliers source their products from, is concerned about getting their staff back on time following Chinese New Year, as a result of the virus outbreak. Some factories expect staff to take an extra few weeks to return. He goes on to say “This will not affect immediate shipments, as many suppliers shipped goods before the Chinese New Year, which began January 25. However, it will affect shipments starting next month and may impact April and May potentially.”

These restrictions all trickle down into supply chain causing delays and uncertainty. Freight forwarders are noting delays in picking up orders and in particular air shipments, often routed with passenger planes will feel a pinch with reduced air travel.

How will the Coronavirus affect your promotional product orders?

Most of Fairware’s suppliers have domestic inventory on shelves in Canada and the USA as the custom imprinting is generally done in North America. As a result, we’re not seeing as much disruption immediately as we’re still able to access inventory that arrived before Chinese New Year and the Coronavirus outbreak.

We’ll be tracking the issue closely as to the impact of future inventory orders and the impact of potential delays as a result of recent transportation bans. For projects sourced directly from China, we estimate 3-4 week delays on in-hands dates.

Our Made in Canada and Made in USA Manufacturing base is serving us well right now

Because of our focus on sustainable promotional products and ethical sourcing, we have a broad network of Made in Canada and Made in USA products. Our North American manufacturing partners will help insulate our clients from any longer term impacts of the virus.

Learn More about the Coronavirus

NPR has a good FAQ page that updates regularly on the status of the Coronavirus. You can find it here.

Want to connect with us to learn about our sustainable and ethically sourced merchandise assortment – get in touch!