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NY retailers brace for Trump tariff impact, trade war expected to hit consumers on goods from TVs to milk and meat

2019-08-31

Get ready for new tariffs on China that could blow a hole in consumers' pocketbooks. (Luiz C. Ribeiro/for New York Daily News)

Open your wallet wide and say ouch.

President Trump’s new tariff schedule in his relentless trade war with China will blow a hole in the pocketbook of most Americans, who’ve been spared the pain of hikes that largely targeted industrial goods.

The 15% tariffs on $112 billion in Chinese imports set to go into effect Sunday will apply to everyday goods from smartwatches and TVs to shoes, diapers, sporting goods and meat and dairy products.

Trump’s trade war left most household items off the tariff hit list — valued at $250 billion in Chinese products so far — as the squeeze went on industrial goods. Under the new schedule, 69% of the consumer goods Americans buy from China are facing import taxes, compared with 29% now.

Higher tariffs also will kick in on another $160 billion worth of Chinese products Dec. 15. By then, roughly 99% of made-in-China consumer goods imported to the United States will be taxed, according to calculations by Chad Bown of the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

Overall, Trump’s trade war will have raised the average tariff on Chinese imports from 3.1% in 2017 to 24.3%.

“The bottom line is that, for the first time, Trump’s trade war is likely to directly raise prices for a lot of household budget items like clothing, shoes, toys, and consumer electronics,” Bown wrote in a report.

New York City retailers cringed on Saturday.

“We can’t afford to eat that cost," said Bruce Stark, who co-owns with his brother Steven, Beacon Paint & Hardware on Amsterdam Ave. near 77th St. "I don’t think we can, and I don’t think any business can. That comes from the largest company right on down.”

“It’s going to hurt the consumer. It’s not going to be helpful for anybody,” he warned. “We have to worry about every single item that comes in every single day and see what we paid for it and if it’s gone up.”

Stephanie Goldstein, owner of children’s retail store Stoopher & Boots just two blocks from the Starks’ store agreed the new tariffs will force her to raise prices, though she hopes she can keep things affordable.

“I’m hoping it won’t terribly effect my business,” she said. "There are so many things operating against small businesses right now.”

“I never try to take advantage from a margin standpoint," she added. "I feel like as long as I can keep my pricing fair, I will be OK. If it means that somethings going to be more expensive to sell it comfortably, then I won’t sell it.”

The president announced Friday the latest hikes would go through, telling reporters on his way to a weekend at Camp David: “They’re on. They’re on,” and pitching the pain as putting the United States “in an incredible negotiating position” with Beijing, predicting, “It’s only going to get worse for China.”

“We’re going to win the fight,” he insisted.

With News Wire Services