Port of Oakland beginning to see effects of coronavirus on imports from China

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Through mid-February, the Port of Oakland had largely escaped any slowdowns related to the spread of the novel coronavirus in Asia, but that appears to be changing.

Port spokesman Mike Zampa says more than 20 container ships from China have cancelled trips to the U.S. west coast over the next four to five weeks.

That's about 20 percent of the ships that import products to Oakland in a given month.

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It may also reverse a 7 percent uptick in imports from Asia in January, compared to the same month in 2018.

Taylor Chow is president of the Oriental Food Association which imports items like noodles, soy sauce and Asian foods for local markets.

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He says most markets and grocery stores stocked up before Chinese New Year, knowing some factories would shut down for the holiday.

But some factories have also been shut down because of coronavirus fears and if that affects shipments to the U.S., stores could suffer shortages.

David Heller, co-owner of Beauty Network in San Francisco's Richmond District, is already seeing some shortages.

The store sells beauty products, and has been unable to restock some hairbrushes and other items made in China.

But he expects things to get worse and projects a downturn in sales and profits for the next quarter.

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