Apple is temporarily closing all of its stores in China because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Apple’s website in China says that all 42 stores will be closed until February 9. The online website still works for customers in China.
“Out of an abundance of caution and based on the latest advice from leading health experts, we’re closing all our corporate offices, stores and contact centers in mainland China through February 9,” Apple told CNN Business in a statement. “We will continue to closely monitor the situation and we look forward to reopening our stores as soon as possible.”
As of Friday, coronavirus, a potentially fatal respiratory disease, had killed 259 people and sickened at least 11,791 people in China, according to Chinese authorities. There have been 150 confirmed coronavirus cases outside of China, including in the United States, Canada and Singapore.
Beijing has taken unprecedented measures to try to contain the virus, including placing millions of people in major cities on lockdown and extending the Lunar New Year holiday.
Apple stores are usually a communal place for customers to gather, touch the same electronic devices and sample them before deciding on purchases. According to people in the country, Chinese streets are growing emptier in the extension of the Lunar New Year holiday, leading to less foot traffic to shops.
Apple CEO Tim Cook said on an earnings call Tuesday that Apple had been regularly deep cleaning stores this week and conducted temperature checks on employees to avoid spreading the virus. He added that while sales in a Wuhan store, one of the first to close, were relatively small, he expected the decline in retail traffic and other store closures to negatively impact sales. Sales in China make up about 15% of Apple’s total revenue.
Analysts expect the immediate impact of the virus to be small, but that could change depending on how long the outbreak goes on for.
“The coronavirus impact looks to be, at worst, 3% of iPhone units pushing out from March to June,” said Daniel Ives, managing director of equity research at Wedbush Securities, “However, if the lockdown in China [and] outbreak spills into later February or March, then we have darker storm clouds on the horizon for the tech space and global markets, with China consumer demand doldrums.”
Ives said that Apple’s device manufacturing would similarly be able to weather the storms unless the outbreak continued into late February, bringing “systemic risks” to the supply chain.