Leading retail analyst worries that Trump tax reform could slam this department store

Retailers eye border tax

The Trump administration's tax reform plans could harm major U.S. retailers because tariffs on imports would affect nearly all of their merchandise, retail analyst Jan Rogers Kniffen told CNBC on Friday.

"You worry about anybody who imports 100 percent of the goods. Guess what? Everybody imports 100 percent of the goods in retailing," the CEO of financial consulting firm J. Rogers Kniffen Worldwide Enterprises said on "Squawk Box."

Kniffen said that one department store was of particular concern.

"Even though I'm supporting Penney and I think that I would buy them right now, I worry about it because, of course, they've got a lot of interest. And so those kind[s] of things can be a problem going forward," he said.

A Republican tax blueprint proposed in the House would end tax breaks for for company interest payments, resulting in a cut in profits, Kniffen said.

Even retailers that do not import a majority of their products are at risk, Kniffen said.

"Now, do I really think that just because you only import 20 percent direct, you're better off? Not really, because if Ralph Lauren's importing and then selling it to you, or PVH is importing and selling it to you, they've got to adjust their pricing based on whatever happens with the cross-border tax as well," he said.

"I think most of retail is significantly affected by this because everything they sell comes from someplace else," Kniffen added.

Executive Edge: Retailers slump on border tax proposal

Analyst Dana Telsey told "Squawk Box" the border tax may hurt clothing companies most.

"It's the apparel companies, the apparel companies who import 98 percent [of their products]. It's the Nikes of the world," the CEO of Telsey Advisory Group said.

"Our retailers, especially the apparel manufacturers, they produce a lot of their goods in Asia," Telsey continued. "You can't give consumers a 30 to a 35 percent price hike when we've had pricing on apparel come down, we have competition from the international fast fashion retailers … and their prices are competitive. We have to be competitive, too."

She added that while more domestically sourced retailers like supermarkets will not see as great of an impact, international retailers' stocks are taking a hit in the market and the businesses are bracing for impact.