No FANS at the Kentucky Derby means no HATS at the Kentucky Derby ... and it's hurting business owners who bank on the big race.
With the COVID-19 pandemic still wreaking havoc -- Derby organizers have banned fans from attending the Sept. 5 event and canceled just about all of the official boozy pre-race and post-race parties.
That's a HUGE hit for fashion designers who usually sell a TON of hats to the 150,000 people who famously dress to the nines on Derby Day.
We hit up a bunch of hat makers who specialize in Derby hats and everyone basically said the same thing ... COVID has put a huge dent in 2020 business.
Christine Moore, who owns the famous Christine A. Moore Millinery, tells us the numbers are "way, way down" when it comes to fan orders -- but she's confident business will come roaring back when the pandemic is over!
She even offered advice to her fellow designers -- "Follow your passion and hang in there. Life throws you stuff but if you just keep to your plan, we're going to get through this. Continue to be creative. Hang in there!"
Over at The Hat Girls ... the owner Rachel says they usually sell around 550 hats for the Derby -- but this year, they've only made about 100 hats.
Dee's Hats in Louisville also reported a drop in sales -- but noted some Derby fans kept their orders to dress up for private house parties.
Bottom line is this ... if you want to support your favorite hat stores, hit 'em up now and pre-order for next year.