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Penticton furniture retailer warns potential new tariffs could hit consumers hard

A Penticton furniture retailer is warning consumers that the price of furniture could spike again as Canadian producers push for more tariffs on imported products.

Penticton furniture retailer warns potential new tariffs could hit consumers hard

“This means that your average Canadian homeowner or renter or what have you just will not have the same options that they’re used to having,” said Arcadia Modern Home Interior Stylist Lindsay Deuchar. “What they’ll find is that the pieces that they maybe had priced out a month prior are going to be now three or four times the cost that they once were. So yeah, Canadians will feel the hit of no longer having the same options.”

It’s déjà vu for many retailers as two years ago, new tariffs as high as 295 per cent were imposed on leather furnishings and recliners imported from China and Vietnam.

This was in response to formal complaints filed by Canadian manufacturers alleging the imported furniture was being dumped and subsidized, selling at much lower prices. Making it difficult for Canadian producers to compete.

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Arcadia Modern Home Co-owner, Rod Riou, is worried another similar tariff may come into effect soon.

“Two years ago, they only targeted leather products and motion products. And now it seems like it’s going to be expanded to any upholstered product which is a massive difference,” said Riou. “This is going to be a really hard hit on everyone.”

Click to play video: 'Consumers being warned that they will likely soon be paying a lot more for upholstered furniture'

Consumers being warned that they will likely soon be paying a lot more for upholstered furniture

The threat of a similar tariff will not only impact the consumer, but Arcadia Modern Home co-owner Hayley Mullen says it would likely put their store out of business.

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“I feel the feeling is heavy for us as a small business. We opened our doors during COVID, which was a very hard time to open a new business and we felt that impact from those first tariffs,” said Mullen. “Having to turn customers away that are coming looking for affordable leather pieces or motion pieces that we just aren’t able to get and for a new small business to be turning people away, it’s not a good feeling to begin with.”

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At Guerard’s Furniture in Penticton, most of their merchandise is produced in Canada. General Manager Trevor Guerard is not worried and says if the new tariffs are imposed, it would have a very low impact on their business.

“There certainly will be an impact on some of the lower price imported furniture, but on the other side of that coin, we’re supporting our domestic manufacturers without subsidizing them, which I think is a fairly positive way of going about it,” said Guerard.

“It’s just good to remind people out there in Canada that we do have a strong domestic manufacturing sector, and that with the proper kinds of support from the government, it can really flourish and actually grow, which I think probably has more of a positive impact on the Canadian economy than allowing our products to be diluted by lower quality, lower cost imports.”

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The benefits of a budget

At least 50 per cent of Arcadia’s products are manufactured in Asia; this includes our North American manufacturers, some of which have pivoted to manufacturing in Mexico.

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Although Arcadia does buy North American pieces, Mullen says it’s not always feasible.

“The lead time, generally products that are made in North America are custom made and they take quite a lot longer as those pieces made in China in Vietnam are readily available. It’s maybe a three-week shipping time to get it from a warehouse over to us or the consumer,” said Mullen.

“Then there is the price itself, pieces made in Canada or in North America generally have a higher price tag than pieces made in China in Vietnam, so it doesn’t make it attainable for everyone. And then also just the style aspect, many Canadian manufacturers just can’t keep up with the design side of things coming from some of the larger manufacturers.”

Arcadia has signed a petition against the potential new tariffs and issued a letter expressing their concerns to their local MP.

“I think the issue with this is that it’s a really nuanced and complex situation. I understand that this is the government’s swiftest way of trying to level the playing field by imposing a tariff. But it feels to me like retailers and consumers are being left out of the equation and manufacturers are the only ones being considered in this,” said Deuchar.

“I think what this means is that Canadians who are already struggling to pay their bills or afford their groceries. Their dollar isn’t going to stretch any further and that means there’ll be less money to be injected back into our local economies, towards other small businesses and real retailers.”

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It’s unclear how large the new tariffs will be or if and even when they could come into effect.

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