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Nation & World

Get ready to pay more at the store

From head to toe, Sept. 1 tariffs will hit a lot of products in your shopping cart

While the Trump administration earlier this week scaled back plans to slap a 10% tariff on $300 billion worth of Chinese goods on Sept. 1, the consumer’s wallet still is going to feel a pinch.

About $160 billion in goods will not face tariffs until Dec. 15, according to an estimate from the Peterson Institute for International Economics. However, tariffs will kick in on about $112 billion worth of Chinese goods Sept. 1, and the list includes items on plenty of families’ shopping lists.

Consumers probably won’t notice higher price tags immediately. Merchandise subject to the latest round of tariffs likely won’t show up on store shelves until the end of the year, and some companies, like Macy’s, have said they’re trying to avoid raising prices. Other companies say they can’t absorb them entirely and will have to pass at least a portion of the tariff – what amounts to a tax – along to consumers.

Here are some of the products included in the Sept. 1 tariff list:

School supplies

Common school supplies like pens, pencils and crayons made the list. The writing instrument industry imports at least half of its products from China, according to a statement opposing tariffs that the Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association filed with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative in June.

The Sept. 1 tariffs will hit most of the products Lake Zurich-based Acco Brands imports from China that escaped earlier tariffs, including Mead Trapper Keepers that keep kids’ schoolwork organized and small dry erase boards, Elisman said. Swingline staplers, keyboards, shredders and laminators already are affected by tariffs.

“A 10% cost increase for a manufacturer is huge,” said Acco CEO Boris Elisman. “We can’t absorb that.”

Still, because products like school supplies are relatively inexpensive, any price increases likely will be measured in cents, not dollars, Elisman said. Inflation accounts for more of the price increases on paper-based products already subject to tariffs.

Sporting goods

Tennis balls, footballs, soccer balls, baseballs, softballs and lacrosse sticks are all on the list of products that will face tariffs Sept. 1.

Head Penn Racquet Sports and Rawlings Sporting Goods were among the companies that told the U.S. Trade Representative the tariffs would force them to raise prices.

Penn makes 60% of branded tennis balls sold in the U.S. and Head Penn Racquet Sports president Greg Mason said he isn’t aware of a manufacturer outside China that could manufacture all the tennis balls Penn sells while meeting the International Tennis Federation’s standards, according to transcripts from the hearings. In a written statement, Rawlings said moving its suppliers’ production outside China would be “prohibitively expensive” and could take a year or more.

Clothing

Tariffs will hit some apparel and accessories Sept. 1, while others won’t face tariffs until Dec. 15. Most suits will be in the earlier group of products, but some, including suits knitted or crocheted from artificial fibers and at least 23% wool or fine animal hair, got an extension. Sweaters made only with cashmere won’t face tariffs until Dec. 15, while those that aren’t all cashmere will be subject to the earlier deadline.

Products whose tariffs were delayed tended to be those where most of what the U.S. imports comes from China, said Jonathan Gold, a spokesperson for the National Retail Federation.

The 3-month delay may not matter because it gives companies little time to switch from suppliers in China to those in other countries, he said. Some companies are trying to import extra merchandise before tariffs take effect, but even those moves add costs, he said.

Shoes

As with apparel, some footwear items got a 3-month reprieve. Sandals molded from rubber or plastic in a single piece will be subject to tariffs Sept. 1, for instance, but those made of rubber or plastic with straps attached to the sole by a plug won’t until Dec. 15.

Eyewear

Glasses and sunglasses, whether prescription or not, are on the Sept. 1 tariffs list. So are lenses and frames and contact lenses.

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©2019 the Chicago Tribune

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