With Thanksgiving looming this week, the official start of the holiday season is upon us. In my family, we take December very seriously for all the same reasons yours does, and also because it’s a month full of family birthdays (6) and anniversaries (2)!
We have some family traditions that everyone follows – decorations go up the day after Thanksgiving and not a moment earlier (“every holiday deserves its season,” my grandma says annually, always sticking up for her 50-plus-year-old year old turkey-shaped candles), birthday gifts don’t get wrapped in Christmas paper (we don’t wrap your brother’s gifts in Shamrock paper, do we?), an entire day is spent making lefse (if you put cinnamon and sugar on it, my Swedish Grandma will tell you that isn’t the way the Swedes do it, which is funny because she won’t accept it was actually invented in Norway), and, of course, gift buying (we’re not drawing names, everyone is on the good list).
But, this year, toys and games will likely cost my family and yours more. It’s almost like there’s a Grinch in the White House trying to steal the holiday spirit with a trade war.
Up to this point, consumers have largely been shielded from the effects of Trump’s tariffs on China. However, as the busiest shopping season of the year approaches, that might be subject to change.
Stores will still be packed, lines will still be long, but behind the scenes, the holiday rush paints a different picture of America’s economy. With new tariffs set to begin on December 15, businesses are scrambling. Just as we all flock to buy presents on Black Friday to avoid higher prices down the line, businesses are front-loading their orders to avoid increased costs come mid-December. This front-loading will cause November shipments to rise 5.2 percent over last year, but December shipments are still expected to drop nine percent, according to the National Retail Federation.
I can already see the President taking credit for the uptick in November shipments and touting his trade policy as the reason for it, but the reality is that front-loading only masks the continual decline of U.S. exports to other countries, including China.
For example, the busiest container port in North America, the Port of Los Angeles, experienced a 19 percent drop in imports and decrease of 18 percent in exports during the month of October. That was the 12th consecutive month of declining exports and the sharpest drop for an October in over two decades.
The ports don’t make false promises like Trump does, they paint a very real picture of the effects of the President’s failed trade agenda. The shipping data shows the trade war with China is doing nothing but weakening America’s global position.
As the holiday season picks up, it’s important to recognize what’s actually going on behind the shelves. The toy car doesn’t just cost more, the toy car’s new price is the manifestation of a misguided trade war that’s now expanding its reach into the holidays. A year from now, our traditions will still be the same, but the cost of carrying them out could be significant if the Grinch doesn’t decide to end this trade war and give America its economy back.