Thousands of household items could become more expensive just as families finish shopping at school, thanks to the latest round of tariffs the Trump administration has promised to apply on goods from China.
“This is a really, really tragic situation for consumers who live paycheck to paycheck,” said Jack Gillis, spokesperson for the Consumer Federation of America.
“The administration is negotiating trade deals using our hard-earned dollars,” he said.
US trade negotiators had carefully crafted the previously applied tariffs so that they were not seen directly by most buyers. They focused on production materials like steel and aluminum. But with all of these options rolled out and the trade war escalating, the only tariffs left for the United States are the ones that have the most impact on everyday consumers.
Shoes, headphones, pacifiers, bed linens, binders, backpacks, pine nuts and other everyday items are now in the crossfire.
“These are things that are going to have a real, everyday impact for American consumers,” said David French, senior vice president of government relations at the National Retail Federation.
More than 70% of shoes sold in the United States come from China, according to Footwear Distributors & Retailers of America, an industry organization with more than 500 members, including Walmart, Nike, Crocs and Steven Madden.
Matt Priest, president and CEO of the organization, said the price of a typical hunting boot should drop from $ 190 to $ 222; a performance running shoe could cost $ 187 instead of $ 150. “All very noticeable increases at the cash register,” he said.
In a letter to the government, Lui Simpson, vice president of global policy at the Association of American Publishers, said tariffs would make price increases for books “inevitable.”
“[T]the tariffs would immediately devastate the industry, ”Simpson wrote.
Previous rounds of tariffs have already weighed on people’s budgets.
Import levies in 2018 cost the typical U.S. household $ 419, according to a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research. “Further tariff extensions, as announced recently, will further increase these numbers,” said Stephen Redding, professor at Princeton University and author of the report.
Prepare for new cars to get even more expensive, said Jeremy Acevedo, senior knowledge manager at Edmunds, which provides research on the auto industry. The average new vehicle costs around $ 37,000 today, he said.
“Americans are already doing all they can to fit these vehicles into their budgets,” Acevedo said. “Another price hike could be a big blow.”
Over 80% of all toys sold in the United States are imported from China. “Kids are no way to win a trade war,” said Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of The Toy Association.
Children’s toys are held to incredibly high safety standards, Pasierb said, and it has taken decades to ensure factories in China can meet them. Quickly shifting production to other countries, he said, is not an option.
As a result, consumers will pay more for Barbie dolls and Legos under their Christmas trees. Faced with higher prices on a range of other products, however, some children might find themselves running out of fun.
“If a family’s budget is stretched, are they buying fewer toys? Pasierb said. “The answer is probably, ‘Yes’. “