Will the White House listen to warnings from Walmart, others about tariffs?
Scores of retailers have written letters to the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) warning that the newest round of tariffs threatens the U.S. economy’s growth and will cause consumers to pay exponentially more on a variety of goods. To no avail, the tariffs are scheduled to go into effect today.
The administration has been steadily imposing tariffs on China over the alleged theft of intellectual property, but this would be the first to hit a wide range of consumer goods.
The latest round, effective Sept. 24, imposes levies on an additional $200 billion of Chinese imports ranging from detergent to luggage. The rates start at 10 percent and rise to 25 percent at the start of 2019.
“Should the tariffs go into effect, Walmart customers will face cost increases for essential items like car seats, cribs, backpacks, hats, pet products and bicycles,” Walmart wrote in a Sept. 6 letter that was made public last week. “Either consumers will pay more, suppliers will receive less, retail margins will be lower, or consumers will buy fewer products or forego purchases altogether.”
Walmart said two-thirds of its spending on merchandise sold in the U.S. goes to items that are grown, made or composed of parts produced in America and its pledge to spend another $250 billion on products “that support American jobs” by 2023 may be in jeopardy.
Dollar Tree CEO Gary Philbin in a letter argued that the tariffs would seriously harm its customers, “many of whom are low-income and rely on our stores for their daily necessities.”
The USTR has received almost 6,200 comment letters on the tariffs.
The National Retail Federation and more than 100 groups have launched Americans for Free Trade that plans to hold meetings this week in Chicago, Nashville, Pennsylvania and Ohio. Grassroots outreach to Congress and the administration, social media and digital advertising are also planned.
Retailers, which order their products six months to a year in advance, are said to be scrambling to find new options for 2019.
- Walmart warns Trump that new China tariffs could mean price hikes on bikes, Christmas lights – USA Today
- Walmart warning it’ll raise prices as Trump’s China tariffs kick in – CBS News
- Walmart is where the trade war comes home – CNN
- Will steel and aluminum tariffs hurt American retailers? – RetailWire
- Will America win the trade war? – RetailWire
- Target is ‘deeply troubled’ over Trump’s tariffs, says prices to rise on everything from playpens to backpacks, as retailers push back – CNBC
- Retailers Warn ‘Risk To U.S. Consumers Grows’ With Tariff Escalation – National Retail Federation
- Walmart and other retailers will soon hike prices due to tariffs: Ex-Walmart US CEO – CNBC
- Walmart Sounds The Alarm: Trump’s trade war will hit Americans hard – Business Insider
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What’s the next step or plan B strategy for retailers now that major tariffs have arrived? How should retailers roll out and explain to consumers any unavoidable prices hikes?