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J.C. Penney Says Trump’s Proposed Tariffs Will Impact Women More

Women would bear the brunt of the Trump administration’s proposed tariffs on apparel coming from China, according to J.C. Penney Co.
“Though surely inadvertent, the disproportionate impact of the proposed List 4 tariffs on women is striking,” the retailer said in a letter to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. The department-store chain listed 26 priority items, ranging from footwear to Christmas ornaments, that are poised to be hit. It said imposing the tariffs will drive up costs, which will be a burden for J.C. Penney’s core customers—middle-class working women.Of the priority goods, 13 are apparel items for women and girls. Raising taxes on boy’s items, kitchen appliances and other household goods are painful as well, because they “will hurt all moms who don’t have inexhaustible disposable income,” the company said in the letter dated June 17. “It will force them to make tough choices.”Jill Soltau, J.C. Penney’s chief executive officer, was an early critic of tariffs while she was still the head of Joann, the crafting and art-supply chain. She flagged the burden that tariffs will create last August, making her one of the first retail executives to come out against the levies.

Soltau took over as J.C. Penney’s CEO in October.

J.C. Penney’s competitor, Macy’s Inc., also sent a letter to the trade representative, flagging how the tariffs will harm new parents because of the higher cost for baby clothes.

“It is hard enough for new parents to make ends meet while changing diapers and surviving on a few hours of sleep,” Macy’s said in the letter dated June 17. “Is it really a good idea to impose new taxes on baby clothes?”

Both companies see challenges in moving production elsewhere to avoid the tariffs.

Macy’s said it’s “difficult, if not impossible,” to move sourcing outside of China for the footwear and apparel products it flagged in its letter. J. C. Penney, meanwhile, said there are “no realistic short-term sourcing alternatives” for the items it highlighted.

The companies are flagging the items in their letters to request they be exempt from tariffs.

Reporting by Jordyn Holman.