Rationing and price rises - coronavirus hits UK business

  • Video report by ITV News Consumer Editor Chris Choi

At a Birmingham IT company today, I watched a real time information screen displaying dwindling supplies from China.

Some computer parts needed in the U.K. are now in such short supply they are being rationed.

The original epicentre of coronavirus is the area of China where most IT parts are made.

Multiple factory closures there have led to shortages and consequently prices have risen up to 25%.

Fashion brands rely on clothes made in China. Credit: ITV News

Problems for other sectors were evident today, as travel firms led stock market reaction to the virus.

TUI and Carnival Cruises were both down around 2%.

Drinks giant Diageo warned of up to a £325m drop in sales, depending on the pace of recovery.

Meanwhile, the influential Moodys Analytics warned of a potential global recession in the event of a pandemic.

Fashion too is among the U.K. industries most exposed to this crisis 6000 miles away.

TUI and Carnival Cruises are down around 2%. Credit: ITV News

Our high streets rely on clothes made in China and one expert told me we can expect a reduced range and some higher prices in the shops.

Many garment importers are looking for alternative suppliers, but long lead times make it hard to act swiftly.

It’s not all so grim for UK firms.

I went to see Brandauer, a precision engineering firm in Birmingham.

It supplies a key component for face masks. Demand has doubled.

Communication with China has been difficult and the uncertainty is something no business likes - but there is more than one silver lining.

After decades of “off-shoring” work to China, some customers are calling this company to discuss “re-shoring” - bringing back some manufacturing to Britain.