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Coronavirus Could Cause Shortage Of Products And Rising Prices At American Retail Stores

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- While the health impact of coronavirus is on everyone's minds, there is a looming crisis for American consumers -- a shortage of Chinese made products on store shelves.

"Two weeks or less."

That's the prediction of David Iwinski, a Pittsburgh-based Chinese trade expert who ran a factory in China for five years.

He said the quarantine of millions of Chinese people will create a product shortage as workers in China cannot get to work.

"The people that are running the factories simply don't have labor. The labor is still locked," Iwinski told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Friday.

Many of American retail stores depend on China to fill their shelves.

"It wouldn't surprise me at all if somewhere in the order of eighty to ninety percent of what's on their shelves is exclusively China or has a critical China component," Iwinski said.

Iwinski said clothing made there will be impacted first, then electronics like cell phones and TVs, and much more.

"Appliances, microwaves, coffee makers, toasters, it's all going to slowly start to leave the shelves, not to be replenished," Iwinski said.

And here's another ugly impact.

"Because of the shortages, prices will start to creep up," Iwinski said.

Iwinski said the coronavirus outbreak illustrates why American companies should not be dependent on China.

"I think this will be a wake-up call for these businesses. All your eggs in one basket really is dangerous," Iwinski said.

Now nobody can predict for sure when and how much the impact is going to be on stores like Walmart and the many others stocked with goods made in China.

But if there's something you really want from China, maybe the best advice is to get it now.

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