Apple temporarily closing all stores, offices in China amid coronavirus outbreak

The death toll from the disease rose to more than 350, with a majority in China.

February 3, 2020, 11:01 AM

Apple announced over the weekend it was temporarily shuttering all of its stores and offices in mainland China as the number of coronavirus cases soared to more than 17,000 globally with a vast majority in China.

"Our thoughts are with the people most immediately affected by the coronavirus and with those working around the clock to study and contain it," the company said in a statement. "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."

PHOTO: A woman wearing a protective face mask walks outside of a closed-off Apple Store in Beijing, Feb. 3, 2020.
A woman wearing a protective face mask walks outside of a closed-off Apple Store in Beijing, Feb. 3, 2020.
Nicolas Asfouri/AFP/Getty Images

"Apple’s online store in China remains open," the statement added. "We will continue to closely monitor the situation and we look forward to reopening our stores as soon as possible.”

While China is one of the largest markets for Apple, analysts say the impact of the store closures on Apple's business should be minimal in the long term.

"Apple is following the trend of McDonald's, Starbucks, and other US companies that have retail stores/footprints within China," Daniel Ives, the managing director of equity research at Wedbush Securities, said.

Ives noted that consumer purchases of iPhones and Apple products in the region have "already taken place in the lead up to the start of the Chinese New Year," and that Apple had strong sales for December and January as well as strong year-over-year sales.

With the vast majority of sales happening online, "we view a one week closure of Apple stores as having a negligible impact thus far despite the scary and concerning headlines from the region," Ives added.

"While the coronavirus outbreak is a sad situation and concerning headline for investors, for the stock we believe the fundamental impact from this issue to Apple’s top-line is negligible," he wrote.

In a call with investors last week, Apple's Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri said the company had adjusted its financial forecasts due to the "recently unfolding public health situation in China."

CEO Tim Cook said the company was taking precautions including deep-cleaning stores and conducting temperature checks for employees.

"With respect to the supply chain, we do have some suppliers in the Wuhan area," Cook added, noting management was "working on mitigation plans to make up any expected production loss."

The impacts of the coronavirus on the global economy have already been felt; a handful of international and U.S. companies announced they were closing plants, shuttering stores and repatriating staff in China.

Related Topics