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Coronavirus outbreak in China prompts bridal and prom dress concerns

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A display at Memories Bridal & Evening Wear can be seen through the window. (WWMT / Alexis Berdine)

China's coronavirus outbreak has caused some Chinese factories to delay production, with an unexpected outcome: concerns about bridal and prom dresses.

Bret Wagner, an associate professor who teaches supply chain management at Western Michigan University, said China is totally shutting down.

“We haven’t seen anything like this," Wagner said. "It’s going to be more and more difficult for the supply chain because of the total freeze in business productions.”

He said consumers can expect dress prices to increase due to the shortage.

A Newschannel 3 viewer shared a message from the Amazon seller she purchased a wedding dress from. The message said her dress would not arrive on time due to impacts from the outbreak.

A spokesperson for Amazon said, "We are monitoring developments related to the COVID-19 and taking appropriate steps as needed.”

Adrienne Wissner, owner of Memories Bridal and Eveningwear in Downtown Kalamazoo said, "This is the first time that we’ve seen something this big happen and start to affect our industry and our customers.”

She said right now a lot of people are not able to get their dresses on time because of what's happening in China. However, her shop has not experienced any shortages.

“Our business is very different than a business that operates off of Amazon," Wissner said. "We work with the big national brands that have huge product chains behind them."

She said she talks to her designers nearly every week to make sure dresses will arrive on time. Still, she said, a large portion of the wedding dress industry is in China.

Wagner said that could change in the future.

“In the short run there’s going to be the opportunity to have that manufacturing move to other countries like Thailand, Vietnam, Sri Lanka where there’s a clothing industry already in place," he said.

Regardless of where your dress is made, Wissner said there are risks involved with ordering online.

"We see customers all the time that have sort of horror stories that they’re coming with," Wissner said. "Sometimes the dress that you get is something that isn’t what you expected. It’s not like the picture you saw or sometimes the dresses just don’t arrive.”

For a bride who has had her dream dress in mind for years, it can be a difficult situation.

“It’s a big life moment that you’ve been planning forever and you want everything to go just perfectly," Wissner said.

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