With retail sales increasing and retailers rushing to bring merchandise into the US ahead of proposed new tariffs on products from China, imports at the nation’s major retail container ports have set two new records this summer and are expected to set another this month, according to the Global Port Tracker report by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.
Global Port Tracker has slightly downgraded imports for 2018, but a larger downturn is expected in 2019, caused by the trade war as well as a slowing of the economy, Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett said.
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Ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.85 million TEUs in June. That increased by 1.6% from May and up 7.8% year-over-year. July was estimated at 1.88 million TEU, up by 4.4%. August is expected to close at 1.91 million TEU, a 4.4% increase.
As for the period from September until December, the report forecasts the following:
- September at 1.82 million TEUs, up 2.1%;
- October at 1.88 million, up 4.9%;
- November at 1.81 million TEUs, up 2.6%;
- December at 1.79 million TEUs, up 4%.
June set a new record for the number of containers imported during a single month, surpassing the previous record of 1.83 million TEU set in August 2017.
The record imports are led by strong results seen by retailers this spring and summer that are expected to continue through the the year. Namely, NRF is forecasting that total 2018 sales will be up between 3.8% and 4.4% over 2017.
Finally, the first half of 2018 totaled 10.3 million TEUs, an increase of 5.1% over the first half of 2017. The total for 2018 is expected to reach 21.4 million TEUs, an increase of 4.4% over last year’s record 20.5 million TEUs.