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Coronavirus

Uniqlo shutters 100 China stores as coronavirus spreads

Japanese retailers Muji and Yoshinoya also suspend locations in Wuhan amid travel ban

People at a shopping district in Beijing on Jan. 25. The coronavirus outbreak in China is believed to be dampening consumer spending over the Lunar New Year holiday, the country's busiest shopping season.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Japan's Fast Retailing has temporarily closed more than 10% of its Uniqlo fast-fashion stores in China, Nikkei learned Tuesday, as retailers grapple with the country's fast-spreading coronavirus outbreak.

About 100 locations are affected, mainly in Hubei Province, whose capital of Wuhan is believed to be ground zero for the virus. Fast Retailing had 750 Uniqlos in China at the end of December.

"We have no estimate for when they will reopen," a public relations representative said of the closed stores.

The company had halted business at all 17 of its locations inside the city limits of Wuhan from last Thursday after a transportation lockdown imposed there that day left staff members unable to travel to work.

Ryohin Keikaku, operator of Muji household goods stores, had closed all 10 locations in Wuhan by Tuesday with no reopening date set. The stores are tenants of shopping centers that shut down because the travel ban prevented staffers from commuting in. The company said it has no Japanese staff in Wuhan.

Whether the rest of the roughly 260 Chinese Muji locations remain open will depend on moves by the government and the shopping centers where the stores are, the company said.

Restaurants are also feeling the heat from Wuhan's travel restrictions. Yoshinoya Holdings has closed 30 locations in the city, including outposts of its eponymous beef bowl chain and udon noodle purveyor Hanamaru.

Zensho Holdings shuttered four Sukiya beef bowl restaurants in Wuhan last Thursday. No timeline for has been set for business at these locations to resume, the company said.

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