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Nike Piles Onto Slew of China Store Closings as Coronavirus Brings Nation to its Knees

Retail is reeling from the coronavirus.

On Tuesday, Nike said it will temporarily shutter “approximately half” of its company-owned stores in Greater China as a precaution to protect the health of its employees and partners. The sportswear maker said there would be “corresponding dynamics” among its partner stores in the region and that it would reduce hours in the stores that remain open.

Nike stock slid 1.31 percent, to $101.38 in after hours trading.

“First and foremost, our thoughts are with the people affected and we remain focused on the health and safety of our teammates and partners,” Nike president and CEO John Donahoe said in a statement. “Despite this difficult situation, Nike’s long-term opportunity to continue to serve consumers in Greater China with inspiration and innovation remains exceedingly strong.”

Regardless of its momentum, the temporary shutdown will likely have a “material impact” on operations in China, Nike said, adding that its e-commerce strength offers optimism about its business in China. Nike registered $1.85 billion in sales in Greater China in its most recent quarter, a growth of 20 percent over the comparable period.

Nike isn’t the only retailer taking measures to curb the impact of the rapidly spreading coronavirus.

Also on Tuesday, Ralph Lauren said it would close half of its 110 locations in the region despite its view of China as a major opportunity for growth. Currently, China represents less than 4 percent of the brand’s business, according to president and CEO Patrice Louvet. Ralph Lauren does not expect to know the full impact on its supply chain until after stores and operations resume once the outbreak is fully contained.

Levi’s added its own stores to the tally on Jan. 30, closing “about half” of its Chinese locations and accepting a near-term hit as a consequence. Levi’s chief financial officer Harmit Singh told Reuters the closings would “put a dampener” on its growth objectives in China, too. Levi’s has also halted all employee movement to and from the region.

Actions to fight against the virus are hitting retailers both in and out of the fashion sector. Apple is set to close 42 of its stores in China, with hopes to reopen soon. Starbucks also closed a slew of retail locations in the region and McDonald’s has shuttered operations in Wuhan and surrounding areas.