Ikea is shutting down all of its stores across China as the deadly Wuhan coronavirus outbreak escalates.
The furniture store will “temporarily close” its dozens of brick-and-mortar stores in mainland China starting Thursday, a spokeswoman for Ikea China said in a statement.
“We will pay close attention to the epidemic situation, and the stores will be closed until further notice,” she said, adding that Ikea’s online shopping service will continue to operate.
Ikea has 30 stores across China, including one in Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, according to the company’s website.
In China, Ikea is a popular place for shoppers to nap and hang out for long periods of time on the many bed, sofa and furniture displays. Such shopping habits would be counterproductive to containing the coronavirus, as experts and officials advise people to avoid crowded areas.
The coronavirus outbreak has killed 170 people and sickened more than 7,000 people in China so far, with dozens more confirmed cases in countries such as Canada, Japan and Australia. The Chinese government 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.
Ikea is just the latest company to feel the effects of the outbreak. Restaurants such as McDonald’s (MCD), Starbucks (SBUX) and Yum China-owned KFC and Pizza Hut have closed thousands of stores across the country. Electric car maker Tesla (TSLA)’s brand new Shanghai factory has halted production due to a government-ordered shutdown. Disney (DIS) parks in Shanghai and Hong Kong are shuttered, as museums and major attractions such as the Forbidden City remain closed.
The virus could hit China’s economy hard. The country’s GDP growth could slow by a percentage point this quarter — or even more — because of the outbreak, according to Zhang Ming, an economist at the Chinese Academy of Social Science, a major Beijing brain trust. His assessment was published Wednesday in a Chinese financial magazine.
– Laura He contributed to this report.