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Here's how much more your shoes and sneakers could cost under new Trump tariffs

China tariffs could raise cost of shoes
  • More than 170 shoe companies and retailers — including Nike and Foot Locker and Under Armour — warned President Trump his proposed China tariffs would be "catastrophic."
  • The Footwear Distributors of America estimate the new tariffs could cost U.S. consumers $7 billion a year.
  • The typical "performance" running shoes may go from current $150 to $206.25 and hunting boots from $190 to $248.56.

More than 170 shoe companies and retailers — including Nike, Teva, Foot Locker, Johnston & Murphy, Rockport and Under Armour — warned in a letter to President Donald Trump of  "catastrophic" consequences if new proposed tariffs on some $300 billion in Chinese goods takes effect.

Tariffs are paid by domestic companies, which often pass the cost to consumers in the form of higher prices. Here's how much more your shoes could cost if Mr. Trump moves ahead and imposes new duties, according  to estimates from the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America:

  • "Performance" running shoe: from $150 to $206.25
  • Basketball sneaker: $130 to $178.74  
  • "Skate" canvas sneaker: $49.99 to $65.57
  • Hunting boot: $190 to $248.56
  • Workboot: $140 to $165.45
  • Firefighter boot:  $350 to $430.65

The tariff increase to 25% on footwear not already subject to Mr. Trump's existing tariffs could cost consumers $7 billion more a year, the FDRA estimates. Footwear companies already pay some of the highest duties, so the industry is close to united in its opposition. 

"This significant tax increase, in the form of tariffs, would impact every type of shoe and every single segment of our society," an FDRA letter signed by the 170 companies said, adding that the tariffs would ask "the American consumer to foot the bill."

Tariff hike on Chinese goods would mean 25% price increase for Americans

The U.S. earlier this month increased tariffs from 10% to 25% on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods. Mr. Trump also proposed an expanded round of tariffs on what's effectively the remainder of Chinese imports of about $300 billion. 

The U.S. Trade Representative is now evaluating that additional 25% increase, which includes footwear. The increases could hit just in time for back-to-school season, Mary Lovely, an economics professor at Syracuse University and a fellow at Peterson Institute for International Economics, wrote in a piece for CNN.

More than half of all imported goods from China, the U.S.'s biggest trading partner last year, are already subject to tariffs imposed by the White House.

Overseas supply chains that could take decades to replace

Some companies have spent the past several decades setting up their supply system in China as factories there perfected low-cost production with simple shipping routes to the U.S. West Coast. Footwear and clothing retailers, in particular, mostly still require humans to put together goods.

Footwear companies that signed the letter to President Trump have different levels of dependence on China. Nike made about a quarter of its footwear and apparel in China during its 2018 fiscal year. Puma made 24% of its goods in China, but 32% in Vietnam. Skechers U.S.A. makes roughly 65% of its products in China, yet only some is imported to the U.S., Bloomberg notes.

Finding substitute capacity for factories in other countries while keeping costs low could can take years or even decades, retailers say.  For example, Under Armour, also a signatory on the letter, gets about 18% of its products from China — down from 46% in 2013, and its goal is to cut  it to 7% by 2023, according to Bloomberg.

The industry association also sent the letter to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and National Economic Council director Larry Kudlow.

Mr. Trump is scheduled to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping next month.

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