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NRF: Import Levels Expected To Grow

Imports at the nation’s major retail container ports should continue to see strong increases throughout the spring and summer, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report from the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.

“Consumers are spending more, and these import numbers show that retailers expect that to continue for a significant period,” said Jonathan Gold, vice president for supply chain and customs with the NRF. “This is a clear sign that the economy has long-term momentum regardless of month-to-month fluctuations.”

Ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.43 million twenty-foot equivalent units in February, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was a decrease of 14.3% from January as many Asian factories shut down for Lunar New Year, and down 7% from the same month a year ago. One TEU is one 20-foot-long cargo container or its equivalent.

March was estimated at 1.61 million TEU, up 21.5% from unusually low numbers last year, when Lunar New Year came a week later than this year. April is forecast at 1.59 million TEU, up 10.3% from last year; May at 1.68 million TEU, up 3.5%; June at 1.66 million TEU, up 5.3%; July at 1.71 million TEU, up 5.1%, and August at 1.74 million TEU, up 1.6%.

The first half of 2017 is expected to total 9.6 million TEU, up 7.3% from the first half of 2016. Cargo volume for 2016 totaled 18.8 million TEU, up 3.1% from 2015, which had grown 5.4% from 2014.

“Our view that imports will continue to be stable despite the uncertainties of the new administration’s trade policies remains unchanged,” said Ben Hackett, Hackett Associates founder.