Press release

ICYMI: Are You Ready for Some Tariffs?

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Football season is underway, which means it’s time to dust off your lucky drink koozie, wash that beer-stained jersey and sharpen your understanding of U.S. international trade policy – because there’s a new penalty in play that threatens to interfere with your enjoyment of the game.

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Fans are all too familiar with the penalties that can set their teams five, 10 or 15 yards back from the goal line. But as this season unfolds, fans need to be aware that new U.S. tariffs ranging from 15 to 30 percent will drive up the price of everything from footballs and TVs to portable grills and fanwear.

Think of these tariffs as 15-to-30-yard penalties between you and the goal of a fun weekend afternoon with your favorite team.

According to a 2018 spending survey from SunTrust, 72 percent of college football fans are willing to give something up in order to save money for tickets, tailgating, team merchandise and other football-related activities. This year, we’ll see just how much fans are willing to forego in order to maintain their football viewing traditions as tariffs drive up the cost of the game.


Arguably the most important element in the game, the football has a storied tradition in American history. And while thousands of footballs are produced in the U.S. (around 700,000 a year at just one Wilson Sporting Goods factory for example), many are manufactured overseas, including China. On Sept. 1, all footballs manufactured in China were hit with a 15 percent tariff.


Excited to wear your favorite player’s jersey? That team spirit will cost you more this year since new tariffs on apparel took effect September 1. At the 25 percent originally proposed, the tariffs were expected to cost Americans an extra $4.4 billion for apparel alone, according to a study conducted for NRF by the Trade Partnership. But fanwear like jerseys, T-shirts and sweatshirts are all subject to new 15 percent tariffs. Jackets and hats were already hit with a 25 percent tariff earlier this year, and those tariffs are set to rise to 30 percent on October 15. With 42 percent of all apparel sold in the U.S. imported from China, it will be difficult for American consumers to escape the impact.


Fans who prefer to watch the big game from the comfort of their couch won’t be spared: Americans would pay $711 million more than they otherwise would for a television hit with tariffs at 25 percent according to the Trade Partnership report.


A 2016 study from RetailMeNot found that 46 percent of football fans tailgate between six and ten times a season, and 42% of tailgaters spend an average of $500 per season on food and supplies. Unfortunately, tailgate essentials like folding tables and team-branded chairs, grills and grilling equipment, and coolers and insulated totes are all subject to tariffs. Even your favorite yard games like cornhole could be more expensive.

So, as you take a break during halftime, take a moment to tell Congress to end the trade war and remove all tariffs.

About NRF

The National Retail Federation, the world’s largest retail trade association, passionately advocates for the people, brands, policies and ideas that help retail thrive. From its headquarters in Washington, D.C., NRF empowers the industry that powers the economy. Retail is the nation’s largest private-sector employer, contributing $2.6 trillion to annual GDP and supporting one in four U.S. jobs — 42 million working Americans. For over a century, NRF has been a voice for every retailer and every retail job, educating, inspiring and communicating the powerful impact retail has on local communities and global economies.

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