American Brides Face A Shortage Of Wedding Dresses Thanks To Coronavirus Outbreak

As the coronavirus disrupts supply chains from automotive to tech to retail, thousands of American brides might be left without 'the dress' of their dreams when the big day arrives.

As KMBC, a local TV station in Kansas City, reports, even without any confirmed cases of the virus in the Kansas City area, the outbreak in China is going to have an impact on local brides - as well as brides across the country.

Brides might be facing a shortage of dresses as the summer wedding season approaches, they said.

With so many factories still shut down across China, and only 30% of small businesses back on line, the television station warns that if your dress isn't already in the country, you might want to start thinking about a 'Plan B'.

Salespeople at a local bridal shop told the station that the coronavirus is impacting which dresses they show and sell.

"In the past, we'd say go ahead and order it, they'll manufacture it. It'll be here in time. I can't do that today. Today I have to say, 'You know what sweetheart? We need to find you a different dress," said Lisa Carson, a stylist at Natalie M. bridal shop in Overland Park.

As of Tuesday, some shipments have been delayed indefinitely, and the shop will no longer order dresses with any exposure to China anywhere along the supply chain.

It is not just the dresses; it's everything that it takes to make the dress that is now on hold.

"It could be the stones. It could be the thread that's utilized," Carson said.

Sometimes, these factors aren't explicitly known, so the bridal shops are scrambling to trace the provenance of their merchandise and attain a level of familiarity with their products that they have never before needed.

"What people need to understand is even if the factory where the goods are manufactured is up and running, maybe it's the factory where the fabric is made or the notions are made, so there's all those different pieces of the supply chain and they need to all be back on line," Carson said.

The issue isn't limited to bridal dresses: Prom dresses, bridesmaids gowns - anything, really. If you're planning to order formal wear, and you don't have a tracking number showing it's already in the country, you might be screwed.

Some shops managed to beef up inventory before the shutdown. But only a handful of retailers had the foresight and financing to pull this off.

For every thousand women who can't get 'the dress', some will inevitably cancel or postpone their weddings, assuming that the supply-chain problem might be a recurring annoyance.

That would have knock-on effects for venues, country clubs, so much of the service and hospitality industry which is already being hammered by a drop in tourism could see the other shoe - domestic demand - drop.