The retailing industry is emerging from a difficult year. From total store shut-downs during the height of the pandemic to limited occupancy as the nation recovers, we know that most retailers took a serious — and in some cases fatal — hit. Additionally, customers turned to online retailing and created new buying habits that will definitely impact the brick-and-mortar business. While the coming year promises to be better from a customer standpoint, extra expenses still lurk behind the scenes, starting with your aluminum and steel shelving and rack products.

These finished goods and raw materials continue to face the challenge of high tariffs. The good news is the tariff isn’t getting any worse. It remains at the absurdly high rate of 25 percent that has been around since President Trump levied it on steel and aluminum goods from China. We’re not seeing any relief from the new Administration.

Maybe our ancestors had it right when they threw tea into the Boston harbor in protest of England’s levying of tariffs. Maybe we should throw a shipment or two of steel or aluminum racks and display pieces into the Baltimore Harbor in protest. The Boston Tea Party participants were more concerned with the actual concept of the tariff, as opposed to its rate. But it set a precedent with taxing imported goods that we are still struggling with today.

These unreasonably high tariffs make it harder for retailers in this country to keep their businesses running. The tariffs have a domino effect throughout the supply chain. Ultimately, they hit the business owner the hardest. They are affecting shipment timing, retail pricing and business bottom lines. The U.S. needs to ease up on tariffs that hurt our economy even more than the intended recipient’s economy.

The U.S. is so indebted to China, but that country has repeatedly proven that it is able to supply what we need in terms of resources and reliability at a much lower cost than buying domestic. Many of our customers can’t afford to pay for shelving or display racks sourced in the U.S., yet they still need these items to do business. They need them now more than ever to keep customers engaged and in the stores. Outrageous taxes to prevent us from importing is not the answer. A reasonable tariff would help our economy and our businesses to get back on track. As it is, this tariff trap looks like it will have its jaws tightly shut for the upcoming year. If you find a harbor full of steel or aluminum gondola shelving or gridwall, call us so we can dredge it out and call it a “Steel Party.”