Major Retailers’ Prices Stay Steady Despite Tariffs

Retailers Have Been Absorbing Tariff Costs

Some retailers in the U.S. have been absorbing the costs of the ongoing trade war with China, including Walmart and Amazon, according to Reuters.

Retail analytics firm Profitero analyzed prices from seven of the largest retailers in the U.S., and more than 21,000 products. The firm looked at product prices from the same period last year, and in categories such as toys, electronics, video games and appliances. Prices were about 2.3 percent higher than last year in the electronics category, and about 1 percent higher throughout all the categories. 

Those price differences are less than the average rate of inflation. In product categories like toys and video games, prices actually went down.

The holiday season is a huge deal for retailers, and it can make up to 40 percent of annual revenue. In 2018, China was the largest supplier of imported goods. Despite the tariffs, many retailers have yet to pass on those costs to shoppers.

“Right now, nobody wants to be grinchy and steal Christmas, so they are passing on as little as possible,” said Jeff Unze, president of strategic partnerships at eCommerce platform BorderX Lab.

On Sept. 1, President Trump imposed a 15 percent tariff on imported goods from China that most retailers sell. One retailer, Dollar Tree, said the tariffs will boost prices by around $19 million in Q4. 

Products from Walmart were only 0.4 percent more expensive than a year ago, and Amazon was only 0.6 percent higher. Prices at Target were down almost 1 percent.

Other retailers, like Staples, saw prices rise 4.7 percent, and Best Buy was up 1.1 percent. A new round of tariffs is expected to happen on Dec. 15 for things like apparel and accessories. That tariff is expected to be set at 15 percent.

The biggest declines in prices were for things like televisions, phones and computer accessories. 


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