Will the cost of radios increase for US consumers?

In the past few months, I’ve received a number of questions from our readers in the United States regarding the potential for radio prices to increase.

Why could prices increase?  Keeping in mind, I’m no expert in this field (seriously–!) I understand there are at least three factors that could influence prices:


As of today, almost all portable shortwave radios on the market are made in China. In fact, I can’t think of a single portable broadcast receiver that isn’t made in China although I’m sure there are some made in other parts of the world.


This year, the US administration has placed tariffs on a long list of consumer electronics produced in China and elsewhere–the list could grow.  Radio receivers could fall into some of the affected product categories. Click here to read the full current list (PDF). Some ham radio retailers have notified their customers to expect price increases (BridgeCom Systems comes to mind).


The US plans to withdraw from an international postal treaty that has allowed Chinese companies to ship small packages to the United States at discounted rates. If this withdraw were to happen, it’s my understanding it would primarily affect direct postal shipments that are now prevalent from sellers on eBay, Amazon.com, Alibaba and similar.  This might mean either the end of “free shipping” from China-based retailers who’ve relied on inexpensive ePacket shipments, or product prices might increase to compensate for the added expense. This shouldn’t directly affect the price of parcel carriers like UPS, DHL or FedEx.

So what’s the takeaway?

In general, sure…I would expect radio prices to increase.

I don’t think it’s a time to panic as there are a lot of market forces at play here. I would personally anticipate price increases anywhere from 10 to  25 percent.

If you’ve been considering one of the pricier full-featured portables, you might nudge yourself in the direction of ordering one in the near future rather than later. (Note: Your friendly radio enabler suggests you use this as an excuse to grab another set! Go get it!). 🙂

Again, I’m not panicking. So far, I haven’t noticed any significant changes in pricing at the major online retailers. When price increases hit the streets, I doubt they’ll be steep enough to discourage us from buying the occasional radio.

One more thing…

I’ll admit that I’ve been reluctant to bring up this topic on the SWLing Post as it’s politically-charged. So keep in mind…

This is a website where we celebrate our love of all things radio, not a space for name-calling, trolling, or heated back-and-forth littered with vulgar language. Our moderators do their best to pluck those comments when they manage to make it through our comment filters. If you’re looking for an outlet to do those things, the web is chock-full of sites that will indulge you.

Over the years, many of you have written and thanked me for providing a safe haven from the drama that’s so prevalent on otherwise wonderful websites. You’re most welcome.

Keep in mind: the SWLing Post is my refuge, too, and I’m keeping it that way!

Thank you all for understanding.

Spread the radio love

8 thoughts on “Will the cost of radios increase for US consumers?

  1. Bob

    I am one of those readers, Thomas, who truly appreciates the fact your site is a safe haven from all of the toxic political dialog found on so many other sites. You keep the topics within the scope of radio and the comments relevant. I’ve noted that you aren’t afraid or moderate criticism either, so kudos to you!

    I have a friend who blogs about knives (another hobby of mine…don’t get me started…seriously). He once told me that moderating comments is a necessary evil…that it’s like weeding the garden…the “weeds” in this case being trolls and drama queens. “If you let the weeds run wild, they choke out all of the good plants and veggies and people will stop visiting your garden”.

    Thanks for keeping a lovely garden, Thomas. The swling post is the best and I’m all the better for it as it too provides me safe refuge from the crazy on the interwebs. Look for a coffee club contribution in your inbox!

  2. Norm Lee

    Last time I looked, both Roberts and Hacker b/c fm and digital radios are made in the UK. Like yourself, I can’t think of any others!

  3. Eddie Walden

    I can’t see the prices going up enough to really matter.
    But maybe I should buy another radio just in case.

  4. DanH

    After word searching “TARIFF LIST – SEPTEMBER 17, 2018” for “radio” I can find no HTS subheading that would include assembled multiband portable radios that include HF reception. Therefore, I am not too worried about price increases for these radios. Over one billion cell phones were produced in China from January to August 2018. Cell phones are digital radios: transceivers, actually and none fall into the US tariff scheme. Keep in mind that fake scarcity is a proven marketing tool for driving up demand and retail prices of any manufactured goods including those made in China. Remember the “collectible” and now worthless Beanie Babies?

  5. Dave AA7EE

    I must admit that on purchasing very modest orders of small parts from China for very little money, and free, or very cheap, shipping, something inside intimated that the party wouldn’t last forever. Thinking back, all of the parts that I’ve bought this way, I would have still purchased if they were a little more expensive. I might have planned my purchases a little more, combining several orders into one, in order to save on shipping. I would still have ordered them though, as I don’t buy anything I don’t need, or at least really want.

    Also, I try to take a long view of this. In comparison to average wages, radio gear was much more expensive in decades past. If our beloved receivers go up in price by even as much as 25%, they will still be cheaper in real terms, than they would have been 50 years ago or more.

    As a kid, I’d pore over magazines for many months, gazing at the ads. When, after saving up for what seemed like an eternity, a purchase was made, it was much anticipated, and enjoyed greatly. That’s my take on potentially higher prices. We’ll still find a way to have our radio fun!


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