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Retail imports rising again as summer approaches

With tariff increases delayed for the foreseeable future and the busy summer season approaching, imports at the nation’s major retail container ports are beginning to climb again, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.

US ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.62 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units in February, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was down 14.3 per cent from January and down four per cent year-over-year.

February is traditionally the slowest month of the year because of Lunar New Year factory shutdowns in Asia and the lull between retailers’ holiday and summer seasons. March was estimated at 1.63 million TEU, up 5.9 per cent year-over-year. April is forecast at 1.75 million TEU, up 6.9 per cent.

The upcoming forecast is as follows:

  • May at 1.9 million TEU, up four per cent
  • June at 1.89 million TEU, up two per cent
  • July at 1.96 million TEU, up 2.9 per cent
  • August at 1.97 million TEU, up 4.3 per cent. The August number would be the highest since the record 2 million TEU set last October as retailers brought holiday merchandise into the country ahead of expected tariff increases.

The first half of 2019 is expected to total 10.7 million TEU, up 3.7 per cent over the first half of 2018.

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