By guest author Marc Bain. Marc is Quartz’s fashion reporter. His background includes time spent working for a designer menswear label, a turn as the literature editor at SparkNotes, and years as a general-assignment reporter at Newsweek. He covers anything and everything related to clothes and footwear, whether sneakers or luxury, business or design.
How much more a pair of sneakers will cost in the US with Trump’s China tariffs
The US is in the process of increasing tariffs on essentially everything the country imports from China, meaning industries spared from previous tariff hikes are probably going to be hit now. One category where shoppers are likely to start feeling the effect on their wallets is footwear.
According to the World Bank, China accounted for nearly 60% of the footwear the US imported in 2017—and nearly all of the footwear sold in the US is imported.
On May 10, the office of the US trade representative announced it was raising tariffs from 10% to 25% on roughly USD 200 billion worth of goods imported from China and, at the order of US president Donald Trump, would apply unspecified increases to the USD 300 billion worth of Chinese goods expected to enter the country.
Despite Trump’s insistence that China will pay the costs of the higher US tariffs, that’s not how tariffs work. The companies importing their goods from China are the ones who pay the duties. They can either absorb the costs, and take a hit to their earnings, or they can pass the costs on to consumers by raising prices, which is what tends to be the outcome.
As Footwear News reported, Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America, a trade organization for the industry, estimated how much an additional 25% tariff on shoes would raise prices paid by consumers at the store. Their figures are based on the “landed cost” of the imported shoes, which includes the price of producing and shipping the shoes, multiplied by three—a standard retail mark-up that accounts for costs such as warehousing, marketing, transit, labour, and the company’s profit margin.
Here are current costs for a typical pair of sneakers, boots, and children’s shoes:
And here are the costs with an additional 25% tariff: