NRF: Import Levels Continue To Grow

Imported products at the nation’s ports continue to roll in at strong levels, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker from the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.

Ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.63 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEU) in April, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was down 5.8% from March and up 0.3% year-over-year. A TEU is one 20-foot-long cargo container or its equivalent.

“Consumers are buying more and that means retailers are importing more,” said Jonathan Gold, vp/supply chain and customs policy with the NRF. “Imports continue to be the primary source of high-quality, mass-produced necessities at affordable prices and will be for the foreseeable future. If tariffs are imposed on consumer goods, that will only drive up prices for American families while doing little or nothing to punish those responsible for unfair trade practices.”

May was estimated at 1.77 million TEU, up 1.3% year-over-year. June is forecast at 1.78 million TEU, up 3.7%; July at 1.88 million TEU, up 4.1%; August at 1.91 million TEU, up 4%; September at 1.83 million TEU, up 2.3%; and October at 1.9 million, up 5.7%.

The numbers forecast for July, August and October would each beat the previous record of 1.83 million TEU imported during a single month, which was set in August 2017.

The first half of 2018 is expected to total 10.2 million TEU, an increase of 3.8% over the first half of 2017. The total for 2017 was 20.5 million TEU, up 7.6% from 2016’s previous record of 19.1 million TEU.