Retail shoppers worry about specter of tariffs

Updated 2018-03-25 15:58:04 China Daily

A customer selects clothes at a retail shop in New York. (Photo by Zhang Ruinan/China Daily)

As U.S. President Donald Trump signed a memo on Thursday that could lead to tariffs on up to billion worth of goods imported from China, many in the U.S. are gauging what the impact will be.

Before Thursday's announcement, China Daily spoke to shoppers in the Washington area.

Major U.S. retail stores such as Macy's, Target, Walmart and Best Buy are concerned about the impact the tariffs could have on their bottom lines, said Rick Helfenbein, president and CEO of the American Apparel& Footwear Association.

The tariffs could also affect American working families as a hidden tax, he said.

The current trade relationship between the U.S. and China has already had an impact. On Thursday, Best Buy, the largest electronics retailer in the U.S., announced that it would no longer sell smartphones from China's Huawei Technologies Co Ltd.

Huawei, the third-largest smartphone vendor in the world behind Apple and Samsung, had been expected to announce a partnership with AT&T during the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in January to sell its Mate 10 Pro phone, but AT&T reportedly backed out because of U.S. political pressure, cnet.com reported.

Verizon also shelved plans to sell Huawei phones.

Huawei CEO Richard Yu, during a speech at the CES, said it was "a bigger blow to consumers" who could have had an alternative to an Android phone, cnet.com reported.

Jose Ferman, a Macy's furniture sales representative, said that most of the items in the home section of his store are made in China.

"Everything is made in China, even a plastic cup," Ferman said. "If you make ... it more expensive (through tariffs), then all of our things will be too expensive. So we will end up taking too much money from the consumer's pocket. We cannot afford it."

He said that tariffs could put economic pressure on people in a city where the minimum wage is per hour.

Dianne, who asked to be identified only by her first name, is a retired teacher who said she likes to shop at Macy's. "I am personally against it," she said in regard to the tariffs, "because I think we should have open trade. I think in the long run the tariffs will do more harm to the U.S. economy."

Dianne said cost is a factor in her purchasing, adding that "he (Trump) needs to get out and see how the U.S. is involved in the world. We are a global market now. Not everything can be produced in the U.S.."

"I don't know the dynamics of the trade war. I heard him (Trump) saying it's good, but I don't see how it is good for tourists visiting Washington," said Dexter Morse, manager of the Washington Welcome Center, which sells souvenirs.

Morse said that at least 80 percent of the store's products were made in China, including T-shirts, mugs, caps and pens.

Yian Ke and Guo Fengqing in Washington and Heng Weili in New York contributed to this story.

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