Furniture Retailers Learning to Live with China Tariffs: WSJ

By Alan Wolf, YSN

In the wake of the 25 percent tariff imposed on Chinese-made furniture last May, retailers are employing a number of workarounds to contend with the cost increases.

According to the Wall Street Journal, these strategies include sourcing goods from other countries, negotiating with suppliers to cover some of the costs, and leveraging consumer finance offers to help ease any sticker shock.

Related: BrandSource Members Prepare for Tariff Repercussions

As a result, furniture shipments from China fell 30 percent from September 2018 to September 2019, the newspaper said, while shipments from Vietnam increased 51 percent, based on records collected by Panjiva, a division of S&P Global.

Nevertheless, furniture prices rose 2.3 percent for the 12 months ended Sept. 30 after falling about 1 percentage point a year from 2014 to 2017, according to Labor Department statistics cited by the Journal. And a June study from the National Retail Federation (NRF) projected that tariffs would cost furniture shoppers an additional $4.6 billion annually, the newspaper said.

Yet many consumers aren’t aware of the price hikes, retailers reported, and customers that are can take advantage of extended finance offers to stretch their payments out over time.

“Everybody’s still concerned [about the tariffs],” Tom Conley, chief executive of the High Point Market Authority, told the newspaper, “but I get the sense that some folks are moving on.”