Phillips, a manager at Wyckes Furniture Outlet in San Diego, says manufacturers began notifying him two weeks ago that they would begin charging him 5 percent to 10 percent more on everyday goods such as dining chairs and bookcases beginning Monday, as the Trump administration’s latest round of tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods goes into effect. And if he doesn’t pass on that increase to shoppers, he says he’ll lose money on each item he sells.
The furniture retailer, which has three stores in California, is already struggling to compete with giants such as Amazon and Wayfair, which often undercut the company’s prices on everything from coat racks to bedroom furniture. Now Phillips says tariff-related expenses will put him at an even bigger disadvantage against his largest competitors.
“To be told suddenly that you’re going to be hit with a 10 percent surcharge on items that you planned for and ordered six months ago — well, that’s very hard to recover from,” said Phillips, who says he’s expecting price increases on roughly $80,000 worth of furniture that is already en route from China. “Today’s customers want the best price they can get, and if we’re not cheaper than Amazon, there’s no reason anybody is going to buy from us.”