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It was a daunting task. In a major renovation, Jani Mussetter needed many appliances: washing machine, dryer, fridge, freezer, dishwasher and stove. When she visited showrooms in January, a stressful thing continued to come up: warnings of a price increase on February 1.
For Mussetter, shopping for higher end devices, it potentially meant paying hundreds of dollars more. And why? "They said, because of all the charges," San Francisco resident says.
Tariffs and trade wars have been in the news for more than a year since President Trump began imposing higher taxes on various imported products and materials.
For ordinary American buyers, large household appliances perfectly illustrate the complicated reality of the trade dispute. A fare was a boon to some domestic producers. But other rates hiked costs for the entire industry worldwide. The prices of appliances are now slowly recovering from their biggest increase in about five years.
Whirlpool, a leading American device maker, is central to the question. Its prices had barely changed for many years, says Gresearch housing analyst Alvaro Lacayo. So, in 2018, he says, "you saw a big tick up."
First, higher prices were welcome news for Whirlpool. They reflected the company's victory over its two largest foreign competitors, South Korea's LG and Samsung.
Whirlpool – who also owns Maytag, Jenn-Air and other brands – had spent years with LG and Samsung having been "dumpers to the US market at under-priced, making irrational competition," as Lacayo said.
In January 2018, President Trump agreed with Whirlpool. He set a new tariff or tax on imported washing machines, which started at 20 percent. So, selling slices to Americans became more expensive for foreign companies. And domestic manufacturers such as Whirlpool can finally raise prices.
But then Trump introduced several tariffs, on metals such as aluminum and steel. Especially steel is essential for building almost all appliances.
Suddenly, device makers everywhere, including Whirlpool, began to complain about the rising cost of raw materials. They had little choice but to start increasing their own prices.
"Global steel costs have risen significantly, and especially in the United States, they have reached unexplained levels," said Whirlpool CEO Marc Bitzer during an analyst in July 2018.  What's next
Steve Sheinkopf owner Yale Appliance & Lighting in the Boston area and he is a third generation owner. "We've been here for nearly 100 years now, it's hard to believe," he says.
Many brands Sheinkopf are working on – like Wisconsin-based Sub-Zero and Wolf or Germany's Thermador – regularly inching up their prices, he says, but the increase in the past year has been greater than most.
Sheinkopf predicts that device prices are likely to stabilize at this time, at least for a while. But for customers who hunt sales and deals, he says that promotions have not been as good as they used to be three to four years ago.
Overall, the prices of large appliances resulting from the consumer price index begin to cross month-to-month. But they are still higher than they were last year.
"On some products you can look at a 14 to 16 percent increase from last year to this year," sheinkopf says. "When talking about [washing] machines that people want to buy, front loaders, I think you are looking at $ 200 to $ 400 difference compared to last year. "
Many companies pulled some of the price increases into early 2019, still calling for high commodity costs, as well as changes in That was what Mussetter experienced when she rushed to buy appliances for the rebuilding before February 1.
"I would be very bummed if I went in today," she says with a laugh. Buying all her appliances ahead of the price jump, later she learned this rescued her $ 1,200. And another thing happened last year, Whirlpool's Korean competitors, LG and Samsung, tracked new factories – in America. That's good news for US jobs. But fo r Whirlpool?
"I think this is the biggest challenge they ever have," Sheinkopf says.