I would hope they reduce the tariffs down to nothing: Leon's Furniture president
The Retail Council of Canada said it “takes offence” at the wording used by Statistics Canada in its consumer price index report, where the agency described how tariffs “may have” contributed to the rising costs of furniture.
On Wednesday, the latest inflation data for November showed the consumer price index held steady at the highest level in almost 19 years last month – fuelled in part by furniture prices that soared 8.7 per cent on an annualized basis.
StatsCan flagged higher shipping costs as a factor, but added “the introduction of tariffs first implemented in early May 2021 may have contributed to the increase in prices for upholstered furniture.”
In an interview Wednesday, Diane Brisebois, the Retail Council’s president and chief executive officer, said she’s displeased about the “many controllable” factors that led to these soaring prices. The council represents almost all of Canada's furniture retailers from coast to coast.
“I do take offence, first and foremost, at how tariffs ‘may’ have contributed to furniture price increases,” Brisebois said. “There is no ‘may’ here, they most definitely did — something we had warned about months ago.”
Canada’s International Trade Tribunal sided with Canadian furniture manufacturers in a landmark decision in early September that ruled China and Vietnam have unfairly dumped and subsidized their furniture products for years, “causing injury to the domestic industry.”
Furniture produced in those countries now face tariffs of up to 204 per cent when entering Canada.
While manufacturers have hailed it as a win, the council said it ultimately hurts retailers through higher input prices.
The council claimed that Canadian furniture producers weren’t “innovating enough” or “offering well-priced products." That is why retailers were being forced to turn to foreign sources in the first place, the council said.
But furniture manufacturers said they wanted to level the playing field through those tariffs, as their domestic market share plunged to 32 per cent in 2020, from 48 per cent in 2017.
Had the tariffs not been imposed, Canadian furniture manufacturers warned they would have set up shop outside of the country.
Brisebois said StatsCan's figures on Wednesday are “beginning to show important signs of how favouring the large manufacturers is now impacting everyday Canadians with a perfect storm.”
She said she will continue pressing the federal government to remove the tariffs or at least shrink them. “The fact is, this is only going to keep getting worse for people at all levels,” Brisebois said.
“It impacts smaller shops who can’t afford furniture to sell at these prices and it obviously impacts families who can’t buy them either. We’re quite seriously looking at many businesses closing down because of this.”