Oct 10, 2019 - Economy

U.S. retail imports are surging ahead of new tariffs

Data: National Retail Federation, Hackett Associates; Chart: Axios Visuals

Ahead of expected tariff increases on consumer goods from China, imports at the nation’s major retail container ports are expected to hit their highest level of the year in November.

Why it matters: The report is the latest data point to show that President Trump's trade war is spurring an increase, rather than a decrease, in buying from China and other foreign exporters. The pace of imports at retail container ports has consistently risen during Trump's time in office.

  • This year also is expected to top 2018's record high for retail imports, according to a report from the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.

What they're saying: “This is the last chance to bring merchandise into the country before virtually everything the United States imports from China comes under tariffs,” Jonathan Gold, NRF VP for supply chain and customs policy, said in a statement.

  • “Retailers are doing all they can to mitigate the impact of tariffs on their customers. The effect on prices will vary by retailer and product during the holiday season, but ultimately these taxes on America businesses and consumers will result in higher prices.”

The bottom line: New tariffs on a range of Chinese goods took effect at the beginning of September and are scheduled to be expanded on Dec. 15 — covering nearly every good traded between the 2 countries.

  • The Trump administration also plans to increase tariffs on $250 billion worth of imports already imposed over the past year to 30%, from 25%, on Oct. 15.
Go deeper