Coronavirus is affecting Black haircare businesses, vendors say

Shop owners wait for inventory to clear and ship from China, as customers fear that the wigs and weaves in stock might be contaminated

Wigs and Weaves
(Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Black hair care businesses in the United States may soon struggle to fill customer orders on wigs and weaves. The hair shortage is reportedly from China and other areas heavily impacted by the global coronavirus.

Shannel Wallace, who runs District Cheveux in Bowie, Maryland, told WUSA 9 that she’s already seeing it firsthand. Wallace said she ordered hair extensions in January but has yet to receive her order from China.

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“I just never imagined coronavirus would affect me, being in the states,” Wallace told the station. “Not directly as far as being sick, but my business.”

Wallace said her vendor is blaming the delay on the coronavirus.

“They finally reached back out to me and said due to the virus, everyone, I’m guessing, is quarantined and they’re not able to go to work,” Wallace told WUSA 9.

Plus, she said customers are starting to express their wariness of hair coming from China.

“When they get their hair, (they ask) is it going to be contaminated?” she added.

The coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has already killed six people in the United States and more than 3,000 globally. A top virus expert told CBS News on Monday that the pandemic could spread to 70 percent of the world’s population.

In addition to the sickness and death, it’s leaving in its path, COVID-19 is also heavily impacting travel, the stock market and numerous businesses that rely on products from devastated areas.

Stephanie Nolan, who lives in Prince George’s County, Maryland, told WUSA 9 that her company, XOXO Virgin Hair, is also feeling the effects of the deadly disease.

“Due to the coronavirus, and the measures taken to cut down on the virus in China, people aren’t allowed to go to, or really return to, work,” Nolan told WUSA 9.

This is affecting her bottom line as the laws of supply and demand come into play. Some areas not hit as hard as China are taking advantage of the hair shortage by jacking up prices, Wallace said.

“I can get (hair) elsewhere, but the price point is just much higher,” Wallace told WUSA 9.

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As to the customers’ worries that hair from China —when it does come — could be contaminated, information on the Centers for Disease Control’s website seems to allay those fears. The CDC says, for the most part, the virus dies on surfaces.

“There is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures,” the agency wrote on its website. “Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread most often by respiratory droplets.”