NRF: Import Levels Continue to Grow

Imports at the nation’s major ports of entry continued to see solid growth through the end of 2018 and into 2019, according to figures from the National Retail Federation.

U.S. ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.89 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEU) in January, up 7.4% year-over-year. A TEU is one 20-foot-long cargo container or its equivalent.

February figures were estimated at 1.79 million TEU, up 6.2% from February 2018. March is forecast at 1.59 million TEU, up 3.2% year-over-year, the lowest level since April 2018 when 1.63 million TEU of product entered the U.S. February and March are historically the two slowest shipping months of the year as retailers are between major shopping seasons and because of factory shutdowns in Asia during the Lunar New Year holiday.

April is forecast at 1.75 million TEU, up 7% year-over-year; May at 1.88 million TEU, up 3.3%; June at 1.88 million TEU, up 1.7%, and July at 1.96 million TEU, up 2.7%.

Imports during 2018 set a new record of 21.8 million TEU, an increase of 6.2% 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% over the first half of 2018.