Breathe easy, vapers! With the coronavirus wreaking logistical havoc all over China, some vape retailers had expressed concern about ordering new stock. In the US, Canada and even Australia, there has been talk of a vape shortage because of the outbreak.
But Aussie wholesalers explained to PEDESTRIAN.TV that there is little to worry about.
“It hasn’t really affected our business at all just because the coronavirus coincided with Chinese New Year,” said Peter Christo, managing director of Aussie Juice Co., a Brisbane-based wholesaler.
“We normally carry at least 6 months’ worth of stock to supply our customers, and during the Chinese New Year we’re always bought-up because most factories generally close for two to four weeks as it is.”
The Year of the Rat began on January 25 with a week-long public holiday. Many vape hardware manufacturers in Shenzhen had planned to reopen around February 10 until authorities issued extended closures in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.
Additionally, people who had traveled were forced to undergo 14-day quarantine periods. This affected many of the migrant workers in Shenzhen’s factories who had returned to their hometowns for the holiday period.
“We always plan with a buffer and that’s part of our daily, standard practice,” said Katie Dillon, sales director at Sydney-based wholesaler EasyVape. “Depending on the time of year, we take into account seasonal adjustments as well.”
“There are some factories that have received government approval to go back to work in a full or partial capacity, but there are other ones that we know of that have around 5-10% of their staff and they’re waiting for government approval to go back to work,” she said.
Shenzhen is the tech capital of the world, and ground zero for the vaping supply chain. The city produces around 90% of the world’s vapes and e-cigarettes.
Shenzhen-based manufacturer Vaporesso issued a statement on its website informing clients of potential delays.
“Shipment orders may take longer than usual due to recent events,” it said. “We promise all goods will be delivered ASAP.”
Last week, Vice reported that one American wholesaler informed clients that they were “expecting a major national shortage on coils and hardware” that may last until April.
This concern proved to be short-lived. “All the big companies all had people back on the 17th [of February],” said Christo.
Dillon says that the cause for concern isn’t limited to vaping hardware, given how many products are produced in China.
“With time, everyone will be affected across multiple industries, but for now, there’s no huge concern from our perspective,” she said.
The most tangible effect of the coronavirus outbreak was a slowdown among middlemen in the supply chain, Christo added.
“Those distributors [in China] are feeling the pinch,” he said. “It’s not that the stock’s not available, but the chain is broken in regards to where [some retailers] get their stock from.”
Both wholesalers stressed that any potential delays would only affect devices and coils, whereas vape juices are largely imported from the US where they must adhere to FDA regulations.
Experts have advised that there is little risk of coronavirus contamination via shipping, as the virus would not survive long enough on inanimate surfaces.
Ultimately, says Dillon, Aussie vapers are unscathed compared to those who are experiencing the outbreak first-hand.
“I do feel that with the coronavirus, it’s very sad about what’s happening over there, and the important thing is that the Chinese government is taking steps to to protect the factory workers and the people who are slowly returning to work.”Image: Getty Images / Dan Kitwood