As tariffs soar, retailers wrestle with raising prices
- The U.S. collected a record $7 billion in tariffs in September.
- A round of U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports, including many consumer goods, began on September 1.
- Some retailers say they have no choice but to pass on part of those costs to consumers.
Shipments of parkas sold by boutique outerwear maker Fera were in the middle of the Pacific ocean this past summer when President Donald Trump tweeted he was raising tariffs on goods coming in from China this fall.
For Eric Tung, president of the Torrence, California-based business founded by his mother four decades ago, that meant a decision: Would the company raise prices on its parkas and ski pants for consumers ahead of the crucial holiday season, or swallow the cost instead?
"The product is already in the water, and stores were already kind of geared up and waiting, and I said, 'You're going to have to change the price,' " Tung recalled to CBS MoneyWatch. "That's not capturing the full impact on us with the tariffs. But we figured, you know, we don't really have much of an option."
Tung says Fera's parkas, which range from $300 to $600, now cost $20 more than the planned retail price, while its ski pants cost an additional $10. Fera, which sells its gear through retailers and online, will absorb the rest by cutting costs elsewhere. Changing suppliers on complex garments like a ski jacket is hard to do quickly because it can take years to develop relationships with speciality manufacturers, now mostly based in China, Tung said.
Tariffs collected by the U.S. topped $7 billion in September, according to an analysis based on government figures and calculated by consulting firm Trade Partnership. The data were released this week by Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, a coalition of companies organized to oppose the trade taxes imposed by the Trump administration starting in 2018.
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