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US retail sales on the upswing despite tariffs

A tariff war with China is on but retailers in the US are continuing to import merchandise in order to meet consumer demand. Imports at the nation’s major retail container ports are expected to remain at near-record levels this month. Retail sales for all of 2018 are forecast to be up at least 4.5 per cent over 2017.

The US retail industry plans to fight back against the negative impacts of the tariff wars. Tariffs are now in place on roughly half the goods imported from China and the trade war is still escalating. Retailers are doing their best to mitigate the impact on customers, but they are not able to quickly or easily change their sourcing. That means these tariffs will eventually mean higher prices for American consumers.

The third round of tariffs is now in place, an increase in the level of tariffs is coming, and further tariffs have been threatened. Consumer prices will inevitably start to rise. While cargo numbers do not correlate directly with sales, the imports mirror this year’s strong retail sales. Holiday season retail sales for 2018– excluding automobiles, restaurants and gasoline stations – are expected to increase between 4.3 and 4.8 per cent over last year.