NRF: US Retail Imports Set to Drop to Annual Low

ContainersIllustration. Image Courtesy: Pixabay under CC0 Creative Commons license

Imports at the major retail container ports in US are expected to drop to their lowest level in almost a year this month.

According to a report by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates, the decline would be noted as the retail industry entered its annual lull between seasons, while plans for a tariff increase were put on hold.

“Now that the holiday season is over and summer has yet to crank up, this is the quiet time of year for retail supply chains,” according to Jonathan Gold, NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy.

“Retailers are also taking a break from the rush to bring merchandise in ahead of tariff hikes now that the increase that was scheduled for March has been delayed,” Gold said, adding that imports will start to build up again soon as retailers prepare for the summer.

U.S. ports handled 1.89 million TEUs in January, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was down 3.7 percent from December following the end of the holiday season but up 7.4 percent year-over-year.

February was estimated at 1.79 million TEU, up 6.2 percent from February 2018. March is forecast at 1.59 million TEU, up 3.2 percent year-over-year but the lowest level since 1.63 million TEU in April 2018.

Imports during 2018 set a new record of 21.8 million TEU, an increase of 6.2 percent over 2017’s previous record of 20.5 million TEU. The first half of 2019 is expected to total 10.8 million TEU, up 4.8 percent over the first half of 2018.

“The trade war with China is turning out not to have the results President Trump expected,” Ben Hackett, Hackett Associates Founder, said.

“Imports from China did not decline – in fact, they soared to record levels.”

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