Retailers Cancel Orders From Asian Factories, Threatening Millions of Jobs

After struggling with supply lines amid China’s shutdown, factories now face a drop in demand from U.S. and European clothing brands

On Dec. 1, 2019, a patient in Wuhan, China, started showing symptoms of what doctors determined was a new coronavirus. Since then, the virus has spread to infect more than 100,000 people. Here’s how the virus grew to a global pandemic. Photo: Getty Images

Retailers are suspending and canceling clothing orders, threatening millions of factory jobs in Asia just as China shows signs of recovering from the worst of the coronavirus outbreak.

Among the first to be hit by the consumer shutdown in the West are suppliers to the world’s “fast-fashion” giants, like H&M owner Hennes & Mauritz AB. Their business models depend on being able to get orders from factory floors to retail outlets in a matter of weeks. They are now pausing or canceling factory orders, boding ill for Asian...