“We’re forecasting significant sales growth this year and that means retailers will have to import more merchandise to meet consumer demand,” NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. “With the benefits of pro-growth tax reform coming on top of solid fundamentals like higher employment and improved confidence, we expect a good year ahead.”

Key points

  • Ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.72 million TEUs in December, 2.1% down from November but up 8.4% year-over-year.
  • The total for 2017 was 20.5 million TEU, topping 2016’s record 19.1 million TEU by 7.6%.
  • January was estimated at 1.77 million TEU, up 4.1% year-over-year.
  • February is forecast at 1.67 million TEU, up 14.8% from last year;
  • March is forecast at 1.54 million TEU, down 1.1%;
  • April at 1.71 million TEU, up 4.8%;
  • May at 1.8 million TEU, up 2.8% ,
  • June also at 1.8 million TEU, up 4.9%.
  • Those numbers would bring the first half of 2018 to a total of 10.3 million TEU, an increase of 4.9% over the first half of 2017.

All of the numbers above are slightly higher than reported in previous Global Port Tracker news releases because Florida’s Port of Jacksonville has been added to the report beginning this month to reflect its growing importance as a container port used by retailers.

“It’s clear that 2017 turned out to be a remarkable year in terms of import container volume,” Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett said. “That level of growth is difficult to sustain, however, and our models suggest that 2018 will continue to expand, but only at about half that pace despite strong fundamentals that indicate a healthy economy and continued growth in consumer spending.”