Black Friday might no longer be the bargain-filled shopping holiday Americans are used to — and it’s largely thanks to President Donald Trump’s trade war with China.
The global back-and-forth, which the United States initiated in March, has seen levies on $250 billion in Chinese imports, with the Trump administration threatening tariffs on an additional $267 billion worth of goods. Meanwhile, Beijing has retaliated with levies on $110 billion of U.S. products.
Industry leaders, business owners and investors continue to ponder the potential impact on consumers and companies, particularly during the busiest retail season of the year. And while shoppers might not feel the effects now, it’s likely that next year’s Black Friday won’t be as inexpensive as it has been in the past.
Big-name retailers including Walmart and Gap have already expressed concerns that they would have to raise their prices to adapt to the trade war’s consequences.
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In a letter addressed to the Trump administration, Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart warned: “As the largest retailer in the United States and a major buyer of U.S. manufactured goods, we are very concerned about the impacts these tariffs would have on our business, our customers, our suppliers and the U.S. economy as a whole.”
Since September, Chinese-made accessories such as handbags and wallets have been slapped with 10 percent tariffs, with that figure set to increase to 25 percent come January.
Writing to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in September, J.C. Penney counsel David M. Spooner said: “No retailer will be able to simply absorb the cost of a 10 percent tariff, much less a 25 percent tariff in today’s ultracompetitive retail environment. That means consumers will pay higher prices.”
Trump is scheduled to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping next week at the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where the two world leaders are expected to discuss trade.
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