Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios


In their quarterly conference calls with investors last week, retail CEOs were sounding the alarm about how a proposed round of tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese products — on top of earlier rounds — could damage their businesses.

Why it matters: Retailers have been reporting strong earnings thanks to robust consumer demand. That's in danger after China/U.S. trade talks stalled, making tariffs — and price increases — more likely.

What executives said:

  • “We're concerned about tariffs because they would increase prices on everyday products for American families … When we're faced with tariffs or any other external factors, there are multiple levers we can pull to remain price competitive and maintain profitability.” — Brian Cornell, Target CEO
  • “We're working with our vendors and internally to assess any [tariff] impact to Kohl's. It is important to note that we have a nice diversity across our manufacturing base, and of course, the tariff hasn't yet been applied to apparel but we're, obviously, monitoring the situation closely.” — Bruce Besanko, Kohl's CFO
  • “We are aggressively working to mitigate the potential impact of these tariffs on our financial results while maintaining our customer value proposition.” — Laura Alber, Williams Sonoma CEO
  • “We are closely watching the evolving global issue concerning tariffs and trade … We believe we will have some flexibility to address the potential input of existing and proposed tariffs and remain committed to satisfying global consumers with our quality products.” — Fabrizio Freda, Estee Lauder CEO
  • “If U.S. goods become too expensive due to tariffs, Chinese consumers can shift to domestic producers or imports from other parts of the world … Over the years, China has become less reliant on exports so that the Chinese economy can withstand the imposition of tariffs on Chinese products.” — Joe Tsai, Alibaba Executive Vice Chairman

Go deeper: 8 Ways China’s Next Round of China Tariffs Could Pinch Consumers

Go deeper

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In pictures: Storm Zeta churns inland after lashing Louisiana

Debris on the streets as then-Hurricane Zeta passes over in Arabi, Louisiana, on Oct. 28. It's the third hurricane to hit Louisiana in about two months, after Laura and Delta. Photo: Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

Tropical Storm Zeta has killed at least two people, triggered flooding, downed powerlines and caused widespread outages since making landfall in Louisiana as a Category 2 hurricane on Wednesday.

The big picture: A record 11 named storms have made landfall in the U.S. this year. Zeta is the fifth named storm to do so in Louisiana in 2020, the most ever recorded. It weakened t0 a tropical storm early Thursday, as it continued to lash parts of Alabama and the Florida Panhandle with heavy rains and strong winds.

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