NRF CEO discusses tariff impact on retailers and consumers

Following the administration’s announcement to delay tariffs on some consumer goods from China to December 15, NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay joined Fox Business Network’s Varney & Co this week to discuss what this means for American retailers and consumers in the coming months. Watch the interview here.

Matthew Shay on Fox Business
Matt Shay discusses the impact of tariffs on Fox Business. Watch the interview.

“We’re very pleased to see the administration recognize that there is an impact on consumers, and so they backed off on some of these tariffs that were due to go into effect,” Shay said. “We remain concerned that there’s plenty of tariffs already in effect, and more going into effect on September 1.”

“The economy is very strong, the unemployment rate is very low, wages are growing, consumers are spending, but we all know as a matter of fact that these tariffs aren’t paid by the Chinese, they’re paid by the people that brings these goods into the country,” Shay said.

“We were always concerned, and we said this all along, that when you get to this last tranche, these remaining two or three hundred billion dollars of goods, they’re all consumer goods,” Shay said. “The administration avoided those goods from the beginning for a reason, because they know it’s going to drive up costs for consumers. That’s why they made them fourth, so if they’re going to go there now, they know what’s going to happen and they admitted as much yesterday when they said we’re backing off these because we don’t want to hurt the holiday season and drive up prices for consumers.”

“The issue now is let’s get them back to the bargaining table, let’s have them sit down with the Chinese,” Shay said. “There are things the Chinese need to do. We want the Chinese to do them, the world needs the Chinese to do them, the Chinese need to do them, and at some point they’re all going to have to recognize that those things need to get done in terms of reforming their trading practices. We don’t believe that putting tariffs and taxes on American consumers is the right way to get the Chinese to the table because we feel the pain too.”

A report prepared for NRF found that if the tariff level on $300 billion worth of Chinese goods increased from 10 to 25 percent, which the administration has threatened, Americans would pay $4.4 billion more each year for apparel, $3.7 billion for toys, $2.5 billion for footwear and $1.6 billion for household appliances.

NRF has been a leading opponent of tariffs, saying they are a tax on imports that drive up prices of consumer merchandise purchased by American families while increasing the cost of parts and materials used by U.S. companies to manufacture domestic products, ultimately costing many U.S. workers their jobs.

Retailers concerned about the impact of tariffs can take action by contacting their lawmaker to discuss their concerns. 

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