BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The economic impact of the coronavirus is starting to hit local businesses in Birmingham and surrounding areas.
Business owners who rely on products shipped from China can’t get them right now, aren’t sure when they’ll get them, and are having to start turning customers away.
The sign in front of I-Cell-Phones in Bessemer say it’s open, but inside is empty.
“It’s just getting harder and harder,” said Sam Muj, Owner, I-Cell-Phones. “We’re struggling.”
And there are empty places on the display wall from where products used to be.
“I started turning my customers down. We’re out of stock and still waiting,” said Muj. “They try to say, ‘Please. Please. I need my phone’ and I say, ‘I wish I could do anything.’ It’s out of our control."
Muj’s store gets its phone accessory items like cases and chargers from China, but because of the coronavirus, their wholesale supplier isn’t getting items which means they aren’t either. The biggest hit for their store has come from not being able to get items needed to do phone repairs.
Muj estimates about 50 percent of his business has been lost in recent weeks. He says other cell phone repair companies and computer hardware repair companies are dealing with similar concerns.
Computer and Electronics Technologies, LLC typically orders from China about once a month. They’re thankful they haven’t needed anything recently because they’d be dealing with delays on products, too. The owner says even if they could order something now, they probably wouldn’t.
“Probably wouldn’t order because we just don’t know what the virus attaches to and how it travels and things of that nature,” said Cordell Thomas, Manager, Computer and Electronics, LLC.
Muj says at this point, he doesn’t have a dollar amount for how much he’s lost just yet, but says he knows it’s significant.