In just a few short weeks, the coronavirus epidemic has affected not only public health but travel, education and trade. But among the goods affected by the spread of the virus, one has escaped mention: as reported by Black Enterprise last week, with China as one of the top exporters to the United States, the booming hair import industry is also at stake.
Due to the restrictions on imports from China, hair care businesses may soon struggle to fulfill customer orders on popular items such as wigs, weaves, and hair extensions from factories primarily based in China. The coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has already killed six people in the United States and more than 3,000 across the globe.
Retailers are already feeling the pinch, as wholesalers are unable to fulfill orders on time, and a general lack of information about how coronavirus is spread has customers concerned about possible contamination, though the CDC currently states that the risk from packaged goods imported from China is low.
“When they get their hair, [they ask], ‘Is it going to be contaminated?’” explained Maryland hair purveyor Shannel Wallace to local CBS affiliate WUSA9 (h/t Black Enterprise). Wallace also complained that she’s been waiting for an order from her China-based supplier since January, but has been told the virus is to blame.
The issue may understandably seem trivial or outright ridiculous to some, but as world markets continue to fall in response to what many are beginning to consider a pandemic, it’s worth acknowledging that to the United States alone, hair imports from are an over-$1.5 billion hair industry. And as we well know, black women are both the industry’s primary clientele and increasingly its purveyors.
“I just never imagined coronavirus would affect me, being in the states,” Wallace told WUSA9. “Not directly as far as being sick, but my business.”