Retailers, restaurants, and more US businesses are starting to feel effects from President Donald Trump's tariffs, a new Federal Reserve report says.
The US-China trade war may be showing signs of easing up on the political front, but more US businesses than ever say they are feeling the pain from it.
Just days after President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping reached a deal to delay further escalation of the trade war, the Federal Reserve's Beige Book — a collection of perspectives from the Fed's 12 regional banks — laid out why many US companies want a quick solution to lower tariffs on steel, aluminum, and $250 billion worth of Chinese goods.
The number of mentions of the word "tariff" in the Beige Book actually declined for the first time since May, to 39 references in Wednesday's report from 51 in October's edition. But the Fed said reports of tariff-induced cost increases had "spread more broadly from manufacturers and contractors to retailers and restaurants."
This is in contrast to previous editions, which reported price increases and disruptions concentrated mainly among heavy industries such as homebuilding and equipment manufacturing.
There are two explanations why more industries are starting to feel the squeeze from the tariffs:
According to the Fed, some of the retailers also warned that if the tariffs' cost pressures continued, average Americans would start noticing higher prices at the register.
"Looking ahead to 2019, retailers expressed significant uncertainty about the impact that tariff increases will have on prices — beyond some point, they will pass the increases on to consumers," the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston said in its section of the report.
Tariffs weren't the only concern among businesses — rising interest rates and labor-market constraints were two other major issues cited by firms.