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January 8 – 11, 2019
is a business journalist specializing in the
retail industry and consumer news and trends. She
currently is a contributing writer for Forbes.com for
which she writes the weekly column, “Minding
The Stores.” She has been cited as a retail expert
for media outlets, including USA Today,
National Public Radio, and CNN Money.
To Raise Prices, or Not to Raise Prices
Currey & Company sources an estimated 30 percent of its goods from China,
including such finished products as chandeliers, lamps, and accent furniture,
as well as such materials as iron, porcelain, and brass. It opted not to pass along
the 10 percent hike to its design clients in the United States and Canada last
fall. “Our concern was with our customers and their projects,” says Bob Ulrich,
senior vice president of sales and marketing for the home furnishings design firm.
While its sales have not suffered yet, the company is waiting to see if the next
phase of tariffs in January will indeed come to be. If so, “a 25 percent increase
is too big to absorb, and we will need to adjust our prices on those products
resourced in China to reflect this additional cost,” he states.
In anticipation of the increase, Currey & Company began adding disclaimers to
its design projects, stating that all quotes that include products imported from
China are valid until December 31, 2018, but are subject to adjustments as of
January 1, if the 25 percent tariff takes effect. “This is an uncomfortable position,
as prices are often quoted months in advance of purchase, and these quotes are
the foundation of setting the budgets for these design projects,” says Ulrich.
Still, the company is fortunate to be cushioned by a diversified sourcing model,
he adds. “We are not dependent on China as a primary resource. Our trading
partners in the Philippines, Indonesia, India, and Vietnam make up the majority
of what we manufacture, and continue to see additional growth.”
Looking for that silver lining—a reduction in IP theft, support of local trade
partners, a diverse sourcing model—will be a focus as we turn over to a new
year, one that could see the tariff situation escalate. For now at least, the design
community will continue its watch and wait stance, making adjustments as
needed and keeping its own bottom line and that of its clients close in sight.