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China retail takes hit as virus scares shoppers and taxes logistics

Alibaba struggles to fill orders while Uniqlo and Starbucks close stores

People are seen wearing protective masks in the financial district of Pudong in Shanghai.    © Reuters

SHANGHAI -- The coronavirus outbreak is hitting China's retail sector hard, with brick-and-mortar stores seeing a plunge in customer traffic and online vendors struggling to fill a flood of orders from consumers scared to venture outside.

China's Lunar New Year holiday ended Sunday, but many localities have directed companies to keep workers at home, making it difficult for online companies to secure personnel to deliver products. And supermarkets and restaurants that are open have scarcely seen any customers to serve.

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