MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — The coronavirus has infected more than 80,000 people worldwide, disturbing both global travel and supply chains.
The port is business as usual and is taking health precautions with shipments coming from Asia. But, the port authority says there is another side to the virus, one that will impact our local economy.
“I think it could have a direct effect on the economy if it lasts long enough,” said Jimmy Lyons, Director, and CEO of the Alabama State Port Authority.
Concern for coronavirus is not only involving health. It also directly impacts supply and demand for businesses, especially at the port.
“Right now, it looks like our business is down – February is down 5% from January. Looks like March is going to be down 25%,” said Lyons.
The port gets four container ships a week from Asia. As imports of supplies from China and Asia begin to slow down, we’ll likely feel that impact on the Gulf Coast.
“They have the parts coming into their plants on a regular basis,” said Lyons. “If you interrupt that for a week or two or three, you have the potential for a plant shut down. Or you potentially go into Walmart, try to buy something and find out they’re out. That could cause layoffs, lack of consumer spending, the stores don’t do as well.”
“Cause you can go into Sams now, and find it extremely, extremely heavy with people buying goods,” said Carol Nettles, who was shopping Monday. “It’s a lot of stuff that we normally get, I just doubled up.”
As soon as business from Asia is back to normal, Lyons believes the trend with switch.
“Assuming things get straightened out by April, then say by June or July, we’ll see a big surge upwards of goods,” said Lyons.
The port says they have been monitoring for coronavirus since January. Every ship has to be cleared by the Coast Guard before they dock.
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