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August 5, 2021

Will Trump’s tariffs make Black Friday a thing of the past?

Your electronics are about to become more expensive. So who will pay the price for the next round of tariffs?

Bargain hunters shopping for TV sets, smartwatches and fitness trackers may be disappointed this holiday season when it comes to those Black Friday “doorbusters,” after a leading trade organization said it expected prices for tech products to rise by a total of $7 billion this quarter due to President Donald Trump’s tariffs on Chinese-made imports.

But not everyone feels pessimistic about the shopping season. Major retailers such as Target and Walmart say they will not pass on additional tariffs to customers, and will absorb the costs themselves.

With the shopping-intensive fourth quarter just one week away, consumers could see some pain at the checkout, said the Consumer Technology Association, which represents companies such as LG Electronics, Verizon, and Amazon.

“We’re going to see prices creep up,” said Rick Kowalski, the senior manager for business intelligence at the CTA. “Retailers are going to be unlikely to keep prices down as they have in the past.”

“One of the main concerns are the TVs,” he said. “They have been the main doorbuster deals that people go to the stores for on Black Friday. We are anticipating that deals on TVs and some of the other big-ticket items will not be as good as they used to be. Prices probably won’t come down as much as they have in the past.”

Although the White House announced last week it would exempt certain products — including smart thermostats, video cards, and certain PC components — from additional tariffs as a gesture of goodwill to China, holiday wish lists that include cameras, earbuds, and smart speakers are already subject to a new, higher tariff of 15 percent. A separate group of additional tariffs will be implemented Dec. 15, on consumer tech products such as smartphones, laptops, tablets, and game consoles, and someone has to foot the bill for these higher costs.

The tariffs are part of the administration’s efforts to radically rebalance its trading partnership with China and protect against intellectual property theft. The ensuing face-off has led to a monthslong battle between the world’s two largest economies that has stalled investment and slowed global growth.

Yet despite the CTA’s dire warnings, not everyone thinks retailers will be raising prices this season. Not all TVs come from China, and not all tech companies have the same exposure.

“Best Buy’s inventory of TVs with screens 55 inches or larger are shipped from Mexico, so it can mitigate the impact,” Kowalski said. Gaming console manufacturers can shift to another country pretty easily, he noted.

Some consumer advocates even say bargains may be more plentiful this year, after the threat of tariffs pushed manufacturers to ship more product earlier in order to avoid higher costs.

Tis arrticle was originally published on NBC News.

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