Why are Temu’s prices so low?


LOW PRICES: but at what cost? (Pcmag) 

Jordyn Banks | Writer

February 21, 2023

During the Super Bowl commercials, you may have seen a brand promoted called Temu with the catchphrase, “Shop Like a Billionaire.” The brand spent millions of dollars in advertising, leading many unsuspecting consumers to search for them, with their search popularity spiking during the commercial. Little do these people know that Temu is probably the most controversial and sketchy site ever. 

Temu is owned by PDD Holdings, a Chinese commerce group, and when they released Temu, it quickly became the most popular app in the United States app store. The variety of goods Temu sells is astounding, with over 200 categories of products. Each good is dirt cheap.

“I have seen products on Temu sold for literal cents, which is insane. Compared to other fast fashion brands like Shein or H&M, Temu is considerably cheaper,” senior Paloma Brunson explained. 

After the brand was introduced and people saw the alarmingly low prices, they began to speculate that forced labor was at play. And while researchers could not find direct evidence linking Temu to forced labor, some companies producing products sold by Temu are based in Xinjiang, which is an immediate red flag. The Uyghur people of Xinjiang are the largest minority ethnic group in Xinjiang and have endured what the United State Department has called “horrific abuses.” In Xinjiang, the Chinese government has detained over a million people in detention camps called reeducation camps, and people are often abused or forced to work. Due to this, in 2021, the United States called the actions of the Chinese government “genocide,” and the UN stated that there are “serious human rights violations” in Xinjiang. 

“REEDUCATION CAMP: a look from outside a detention camp in Xinjiang, China. (NewYorkTimes)

“Just that Temu has any products manufactured in Xinjiang is reason enough to stop shopping there,” senior Ava Martinez explained. “Even if a product is being sold for super cheap, is that a good enough reason to risk buying something created by forced labor? It isn’t,” she added. Due to the human rights violations, federal officials banned the importation of goods from Xinjiang. Joe Biden signed the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which states that any goods produced in Xinjiang should be assumed to result from forced labor. Temu has denied any allegations that forced labor is at play. 

Another reason why Temu can create mass goods for low prices is because they have taken advantage of a United States shipping rule, “de minimis exception,” a provision that waives fees on packages that cost less than 800 dollars. Congressional reports show that Shien and Temu paid no fees in 2022, while H&M paid 250 million dollars. When brands use this loophole, there is no formal documentation of the package, making it more difficult for customs to detect whether goods are made with forced labor. 

Let this be a warning that fast fashion has never been, and will never be, ethical. Do not unknowingly contribute to a genocide; stop buying from Temu. 

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