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Christmas just got costlier with Trump's trade war

Posted at 10:44 PM, May 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-20 23:45:34-04

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla.-- — To achieve ultimate jolly this year, prepare to pay more.

An industry that’s mostly dormant during the summer could be hit hard by President Trump’s trade war with China. Holiday lights are among the billions of dollars of goods hit with a 25% import tax from China.

“Everything that’s coming on order is going to be 25% more expensive which, ultimately, will get passed on to the customer,” said Randy Gillman who owns Randy’s Holiday Lighting based in Palm Beach County.

It’s always festive inside this slice of the North Pole, kept away in his Rivera Beach warehouse until it’s time.

“These (Christmas trees) are already decorated and ready to go,” Gillman said as he gave us a tour of the warehouse.

Randy’s Holiday Lighting this time of year has two employees. Come mid-September, it’s up to 50.

They do 80% commercial, 20% residential. All of them major setups, like the holiday light show at the Downtown in the Gardens in Palm Beach Gardens. They work with HOA’s, businesses and municipalities.

“We’ve got about 14 trucks here,” he said.

He would like to buy American, but China does holiday décor much cheaper than America can. Christmas trees, menorahs, lights and more all come from China.

“If we were to bring this industry back to the United States, you’d probably be looking at everything (holiday related) pretty much double in price,” he said, noting it was about 50 years ago when holiday lights were made in America.

Gillman ordered about $250,000 worth of inventory from China in February. If the tariff is still in place this summer when it ships, Gillman’s cost just went up about $65,000.

“To an average customer, you may be looking at a few hundred dollars more per year, a bigger customer a few extra thousand per year,” he said.

If you plan on doing it yourself this year and buy lights from a big box store, a box of lights that cost $3 will likely cost around a dollar more.