Cellphone parts that were being manufactured in mainland China are now in limited supply since so many cities have been under quarantine, according to a Monday report from The Seattle Times. As a result, small cellphone repair shops are feeling the squeeze the coronavirus has caused.
“They’re not manufacturing, they’re not selling parts,” Siawash Popal, a manager at two Jet City Device Repair shops in Washington, told the publication.
Likewise, CEO Mark Pauley of PhoneAxiom Express Device Repair in Lynchburg, Virginia, told WSLS 10 News, “We’re not able to get everything right now,” while business owner Sam Muj of I-Cell-Phones in Bessemer, Alabama, told WBRC FOX6 News that keeping his shelves stocked is becoming “harder and harder.”
Particularly, it has been difficult to keep phone cases and chargers fully stocked. Repair orders have also been affected, according to Muj.
“I started turning my customers down,” Muj said. “We’re out of stock and still waiting. 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.”
Other shops are reportedly uncomfortable with the idea of ordering parts from China amid the coronavirus outbreak, which has infected more than 89,200 people and has caused more than 3,045 deaths at the time of publication, according to Johns Hopkins University's live tracker.
“[I] 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, a manager of Computer and Electronics in Alabama, told WBRC.
A 2019 Pew Research Study estimated that 81 percent of Americans own a cellphone, which is up from the 35 percent share the research firm reported in 2011.
Reliance on cellphones is so high “that even an hour or two for a repair puts a strain on them,” said Cory Torres, a Washington-based general manager of One Hour Device Repair in the Seattle Times report.
“It’s really scary because I don’t think we’re getting any parts anytime soon,” said Brij Amin, an owner of Smartphone Quick Fix in Orange County, Florida, in an interview with, WESH 2 News. “I don’t know what we’re going to do,”
The World Health Organization labeled the coronavirus outbreak as a “very high” global risk in an official report Friday, though the organization did not classify it as a pandemic.
In the U.S. there have been 86 confirmed cases thus far and six deaths related to the respiratory illness.