Price Increase Alert

How you can get an edge on your competitors

Printed silicone phone wallets exiting a drying oven

The tug of war over Tariffs during the last few months has created headaches for suppliers in the promotional products industry. Back and forth pronouncements make price predictions challenging. A large percentage of promotional items are produced in China – the focus of most tariff discussions. 

Suppliers contract with overseas manufacturers months in advance for blank promotional goods that they imprint or embroider with your custom logo in their domestic factories. Fall is the time when they set their prices for print catalogs coming in the new year. Several of our suppliers quietly disclosed to us that they will not be printing catalogs at all this year. Instead, they plan to rely on their web sites, allowing them to be more fluid with product costs.

What this means for buyers like you

For businesses that use promotional products and apparel, this creates a challenge. Promotional product distributors like Sophwell will need to make clients aware that prices published in a catalog or that we quoted last week may have changed due to 10-25% tariffs imposed in the interim. This uncertain scenario is difficult for everyone.

UPS has also announced that shipping costs will increase 4.9% on the day after Christmas, December 26th. Combined with the potential tariffs, businesses will need to be ready to get less for their budgets in 2019.

How to stay ahead of your competitors

If your organization can plan ahead, you have an opportunity to still get next year’s materials at this year’s prices. Some suppliers have agreed to hold their prices on nearly all items until December 31st, so you still have time to avoid increases that your less-savvy competitors will pay.

If you still have budget money left for this year, acting now makes even more sense. Don’t wait too long, though, as suppliers may run out of inventory on popular items and possibly increase prices on new shipments coming in.

How to avoid the price increase

  • Look at your trade show or promotional plans for next year
  • Budget for how much material you will need
  • Develop a list of products you will want in inventory
  • Contact us to see which items you need to buy now and which ones can wait

Items likely to be impacted by tariffs:

  • Hats
  • Tote Bags
  • Plastic Pens
  • Cotton and sport bags
  • Non-Woven bags
  • Leather goods
  • Cotton, wool and synthetic textiles
  • Towels
  • Badges
  • LED lighting (flashlights)
  • Cartons, boxes and cases of corrugated paper and paperboard
  • Drinkware (water bottles, mugs)
  • Technology (chargers, power banks)

Items not impacted by tariffs:

  • Printed products (paper prices already increased 10% in 2018)
  • Large format printing (banners, displays, table throws)
  • Domestically produced products (contact us for details)

Email me at to schedule a time to review how these price increases impact the materials you buy. In some cases, we can switch to either domestic production or non-tariffed countries. If production storage is a potential issue, we can help with that as well.