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Coming soon to a store near you: more expensive items

Key Points
  • Thousands of household products could get more expensive, thanks to the newest round of tariffs the U.S. plans to slap on goods from China next month.
  • "This is a really, really tragic situation for consumers who are living paycheck to paycheck," said Jack Gillis, a spokesman for the Consumer Federation of America.
Darby S | Twenty20

Cribs. Toothbrushes. Milk.

Thousands of household products could get more expensive, thanks to the newest round of tariffs the U.S. plans to slap on goods from China next month.

"This is a really, really tragic situation for consumers who are living paycheck to paycheck," said Jack Gillis, a spokesman for the Consumer Federation of America.

"The administration is negotiating trade deals using our hard-earned dollars," he said.

While previous rounds of the trade war between the world's largest economies targeted production materials, including steel and aluminium, this time it's shoes, headphones, pacifiers, bed linens, binders, backpacks, pine nuts and other common items in the crossfire.

"These are things that are going to have a real, everyday impact for American consumers," said David French, senior vice president of government relations at the National Retail Federation.

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More than 70% of shoes sold in the U.S. come from China, according to the Footwear Distributors & Retailers of America, an industry organization with more than 500 members, including Walmart, Nike, Crocs and Steven Madden.

Matt Priest, president and CEO of the organization, said the price of a typical hunting boot is expected to increase to $222 from $190; a performance running shoe could cost $187 instead of $150. "All very noticeable increases at checkout," he said.

In a letter to the government, Lui Simpson, vice president for global policy at The Association of American Publishers, said tariffs would make price increases on books "inevitable."

This is a really, really tragic situation for consumers who are living paycheck to paycheck.
Jack Gillis
spokesman for the Consumer Federation of America

"[T]ariffs would be immediately devastating for the industry," Simpson wrote.

The previous rounds of tariffs have already squeezed people's budgets.

The levies on imports in 2018 cost the typical U.S. household $419, according to a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research. "Further extensions of the tariffs, as recently announced, will further increase these numbers," said Stephen Redding, a professor at Princeton University and an author of the report.

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Brace for new cars to get even more expensive, said Jeremy Acevedo, the senior manager of insights at Edmunds, which provides research on the auto industry. The average new vehicle costs around $37,000 today, he said.

"Americans are already doing everything they can to squeeze these vehicles into their budgets," Acevedo said. "Another price increase could be a crushing blow."

More than 80% of all toys sold in the U.S. are imported from China. "Children are no way to win a trade war," said Steve Pasierb, the president and CEO of The Toy Association.

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Children's toys face incredibly high safety standards, Pasierb said, and it's taken decades to make sure that the factories in China can meet them. Quickly shifting production to other countries, he said, is not an option.

As a result, consumers will pay more for the Barbie dolls and Legos under their Christmas trees. Faced with higher prices on a range of other products, though, some children might find themselves short on amusement.

"If a family's budget is stretched, do they buy fewer toys?" Pasierb said. "The answer is probably, 'Yes.'"

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Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.