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Small appliance stores struggle with tariff impact

"This is the biggest increase we've ever seen"
Posted at 6:12 PM, May 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-13 18:31:27-04

Never mind what could be coming. Tariffs are already impacting consumers, in the form of a tariff-related price hike if you've bought a new washer or dryer this year.

And unless the tough trade talk with China cools down, experts say we may soon be paying more for a lot of things we buy.

Appliance stores hit first

It's not easy being in the appliance business these days.

At Lee and Jack's Appliancesin Batavia, Ohio, owner Jeffrey Boggs has to explain prices that recently jumped $75 to $100 on many washers.

Boggs says the initial round of tariffs hit LG and Samsung, which manufacture their products primarily in China.

"They went up about 10%," Boggs said, "and availability was also an issue for a while."

But then he says the price hikes spread to American brands like Whirlpool, GE, and Maytag as well, because many of their internal parts come from China.

"This is the biggest single increase we've ever seen," Boggs said.

When the initial tariffs took effect a little over a year ago, Boggs said the only thing to go up were washing machines. But he says now this January they've also seen tariff-related price hikes on everything from wall ovens to refrigerators.

"All the manufacturers went up January 1, by 7 to 10%, and that was across the board. Washers, dryers everything."

Now, unless a deal is reached by the end of May, CNBC and Business Insider say these tariffs may soon hit:

  • Furniture
  • Bicycles
  • Bike helmets
  • Child car seats
  • Electronics like smartwatches and TVs (Smartphones are exempted from the tariffs, however)
  • Many other items assembled in China.

The White House's economic adviser Larry Kudlow says "both sides" will likely suffer from this trade war, specifically both Chinese and American businesses.

That all leaves small appliance stores like Lee and Jack's struggling to keep their prices the best around.

"I think most people who come in here are confident we have good prices," Boggs said, "but most people know prices have gone up."

With the latest tariffs expected to take place June 1, if you need an appliance or another big ticket item, you may want to shop now.

That way you don't waste your money.


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