When the Trump administration started the trade war with China more than a year ago, industrial imports were largely the target. But now consumers may be about to feel the pinch with women disproportionately impacted. CGTN’s Karina Huber has more.
Until recently, U.S. consumers were largely shielded from a direct hit in the U.S.-China trade war.
But as of September 1, clothing and shoes – among other items – face an additional 15 percent tariff when imported from China.
Prices for those goods could rise and female shoppers will likely feel the pain the most.
That’s because women tend to consume more clothing than men and more of what they buy is made in China.
According to an analysis by The Wall Street Journal, in 2018, 42 percent of girls and women’s shoes and clothing was imported from China. For men and boys, it was only 26 percent.
Fashion experts said China’s manufacturing infrastructure and know-how makes it an ideal place to make women’s apparel that needs to be delivered quickly and is often more detailed than men’s.
“You would go to – for example –Pakistan or Mexico to make a very simple pair of men’s jeans or t-shirt. If you want to make something more elaborate with more make in it and a woman’s garment, you would probably go to China,” said Keanan Duffty, Director of Fashion Management at Parsons School of Design in New York.
JC Penney said in a U.S. filing that 13 of 19 items in its stores that will be the most impacted by tariffs are for women and girls. It warned the tariffs would have a significant impact on its customers.
Female consumers in New York had mixed reactions to the prospect of price hikes due to the tariffs.
“I really don’t mind even though I wouldn’t like to pay more. It’s understandable when it’s something like that,” said one shopper.
“Basically if people start shopping their closets more often, then the prices should not affect us as much as we think it will,” said another.
“I would still buy it if the prices went up. They’re not going to be cheaper anywhere else. You’ll have to buy something. Everybody loves to shop,” said a third shopper.
Duffty said some consumers may be able to shrug off higher prices but others won’t.
“That 15 percent is significant. It’s going to take the price point of a pair of jeans at Target – let’s say that’s $29.95 –and take them over the tipping point of being over the 30-dollar mark, which can really have a resounding effect on a consumer. They can see that as ‘Oh, that’s beyond my pocket book right now’,” he said.
Duffty said that could cause a slowdown in sales at larger U.S. retailers with ripple effects on the broader economy.