Labor day sales have begun, and shoppers are going wild. Shopping baskets are filled to the brim. Today, I was at a clothing store where summer clothes were 70% off. Last weekend, while shopping with my granddaughters, we found bathing suits at 80% off. It’s the last giveaway of the season, and it’s never going to be this good again. Is this China’s last stand at the mall?
When you get home, go through those piles of clothes you’ve purchased at end of season sales. Look at the labels. Can you find one item that wasn’t made in China? Only 2% of the clothing products we buy are made in the USA. But next year, it’s estimated the cost of garments made in China will increase about 25%, due to new tariffs. Which really isn’t all that much.
We’re so accustomed to cheap clothes from China that we don’t want to think about how it’s affected the American labor force. We know that many Chinese laborers work sixteen hour days to produce those incredibly cheap clothes, but it doesn’t stop us from buying them.
What is going to happen now that we’re in a trade war? Will more clothes be made in the USA, and how is that going to affect the price of our next pair of blue jeans? Personally, I would be willing to pay a higher price for garments made in our own country, but it probably won’t happen for another decade. Clothing manufacturers will probably turn to other third world countries where wages are low.
Here are some other things that could happen if clothing and shoes get too pricey: We might reduce the size of our wardrobes. People could start sewing their own clothes again, which will help the fabric industry. Sales at Goodwill Industry stores may increase, providing more jobs for the handicapped. Garment manufacturers might decide to open factories in the USA, which would create more jobs in the USA.
And so, while I’m snapping up the bargains like everyone else, it won’t bother me to pay higher prices next season, as long as it benefits the American worker.
And, if you didn’t get to the mall this weekend, don’t worry. Labor Day Sales are still ahead.