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Appliance Tariffs and Should You Buy Appliances Now?

Steve Sheinkopf  |  April 30, 2019  |  7 Min. Read

How to Buy Appliances  |  Tariffs  |  Pro Appliance Tips

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We were interviewed by NPR last week about tariffs affecting the appliance business. They had read our article on October 18th, 2018.

Most of what we wrote about the following 6 months happened.

But that’s history.

How do you buy appliances when you are in the market now or in the near future?

In this article, you will learn about the different tariffs, how companies responded so far this year, and the different products affected.

Then I will tell you when to buy your kitchen appliances.

We will also cover what may happen to the industry in 2020 and beyond.

What is the impact of different tariffs on appliance brands?

yale-appliance-front-load-laundry-display-skinny

Tariffs on Samsung and LG 

To review, Samsung and LG were charged with 20% tariffs this year and 50% next year on washers as a penalty for dumping products in the US.

Dumping is selling products below the cost of production often times with foreign government subsidies. It is designed to wipe out that countries industry.

Also, there was a 50% tariff on “key components” to washers over 50,000 units.

In this case, it was designed to hurt Whirlpool, the largest American appliance manufacturer.

However, LG and Samsung will end up ironically benefiting the most much to the detriment of Whirlpool.

Steel and Aluminum Tariffs

There were also 25% tariffs on foreign steel and 10% on aluminum. Mostly every facet of building a home has steel including appliances.

This tariff affects every foreign manufacturer as well as domestic manufacturers.

This tariff increased prices the most. The average for each price increase was 8%.

Specialty Companies Impacted By Tariffs

Fisher & Paykel

Fisher-&-Paykel-Kitchen-Boston-Showroom

Fisher & Paykel had a 4% increase on refrigerators. Their laundry, however, bore the full brunt of every tariff with a 40% increase.

BSH Home Appliance Corporation (Bosch, Thermador, and Gaggenau)

Thermador-Kitchen-featuring-side-swing-doors

Price increases across the board of 7-10% were effective August 1, 2018 for BSH. Prices also increased in 2019 with their new product introductions. Their promotions have not changed with free dishwashers and hoods.

Miele

Yale-Home-Show-Framingham-Miele-Kitchen-2

Miele had a 7-10% increase effective as of August 1, 2018, and then they followed up again in February 2019. Their 10% off promotions have not been affected as of yet.

Sub-Zero and Wolf

blog.yaleappliance.comhubfsYale-Home-Show-Framingham-Wolf-Kitchen

Sub-Zero and Wolf had their yearly increase announced before the tariffs. Then they followed up with another massive increase in 2019. They are probably done for increases until Spring 2020 or later.

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When did appliance brands increase prices? 

  Year of Increase
Best by Broan 2019 Only
Bertazzoni 2019 Only
Blomberg 2019 only
BlueStar 2018 and 2019
JennAir 2018 and 2019
GE 2019 only (I don't have data on them in 2018 though)
La Cornue 2019 only
LG 2018 and 2019
Miele  2018 and 2019
Samsung 2018 and 2019
Sub-Zero and Wolf 2018 (twice) and 2019
Thermador  2018 and 2019
Weber 2019 only
Whirlpool Corporation  2019 only

What are the average price increases for product categories?

yale-appliance-front-load-laundry-display-boston

Laundry on promotion was $499-599 per machine in 2018. Now that pair is $699 each minimum. The well more featured machines are $1,500 to $2,200 per pair. That's at least a 20% increase.

On the low end, some brands increased about 7.5% while others are 20% or more with an average of about 15%.

On the high end, there are price increases buried in “upgrades.” The manufacturer will make a small technical improvement and you'll suddenly see a 10% increase.

For example, Thermador restyled their most popular professional range and added almost $500 to the price at the same time. 

Old Thermador PRG304

New Thermador PRG304

thermador-30-inch-professional-range-PRG304GH Thermador PRG304GH

Was: $4,399

Now: $4,849

Prices for Appliances from April 2019 Until October 2019

I have not seen any more notifications on price increases in the immediate future. So you should not feel pressured to buy now unlike the last few months.

Most manufacturers have already increased prices before April 1st.

When is the Best Time to Buy an Appliance?

Samsung and LGs’ strategy to disrupt the US appliance industry was huge discounts 6 times a year

The best times to buy appliances are:

  • Memorial Day
  • July 4th
  • Labor Day (or Tax Holiday)
  • Black Friday (all of November)
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • Presidents’ Day

Before 2018, the discounts were 10-35% off. Now as we said, they are more like 10-20%, but that is

still $750 on a $5,000 kitchen package.

Wait until one of those periods if you can.

The Best Way to Buy Premium Appliances

Oddly enough, most of the promotions like free dishwashers and hoods as well as "10% offs" on premium products have not changed.

You should consider buying the same product line to capture all the promotions and rebates available (if you can).

Premium brands like Miele and Thermador promote differently than other appliances brands like a Samsung or LG.

The promotional time periods differ. You may want to wait and buy your Miele wall oven at a different time than your LG laundry or vice versa.

What can we expect in 2020 for the appliance industry?

LG and Samsung will then have factories in the US by the end of the year. They already have some for production, but eventually, most of their appliances will be produced here.

Then their tariffs will not apply because it will be considered a domestic product.

At that point, you could see lower prices as they fight with Whirlpool for your wallet.

You could perhaps benefit from a price war like pre-2017 but not until 2020.

The main takeaway is to not feel pressured to buy now. Wait if you can until a promotional period with Black Friday being the best time. Black Friday sales are through all November for the retail industry.

Additional Resources

We actually cover this and all things appliance in our Appliance Buying Guide. You can download it for free by clicking the link below. Over 530,000 people have read a Yale Guide for buying tips, the best features, and specs.

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Steve Sheinkopf

Steve is the third-generation CEO of Yale and a lifelong Bostonian. He currently resides in Boston, one mile from where he was born. Despite being one of the worst goalies of all time, he is a huge hockey fan of college hockey and the Boston Bruins. The love of his life is his daughter Sophie.

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