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Global Port Tracker: U.S. retail imports on the rise
American Shipper
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U.S. retail imports are ning to increase again as summer approaches and are fore to nearly reach the 2 million-TEU mark by August, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released Monday by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates.

U.S. ports covered by the Global Port Tracker handled an estimated 1.63 million TEUs in March, which was a 5.9 percent year-over-year jump and an increase over the traditionally slow February, which fell 4 percent year-over-year to 1.62 million TEUs.

April is fore at 1.75 million TEUs, up 6.9 percent; May at 1.9 million TEUs, a 4 percent increase; June at 1.89 million TEUs, a 2 percent hike; July at 1.96 million TEUs, up 2.9 percent; and August at 1.97 million TEUs, a 4.3 percent rise. August’s number would be the highest since October’s record of 2 million TEUs, according to NRF’s statement about the Global Port Tracker.

“Retailers are starting to stock up in anticipation of a strong summers,” said Jonathan Gold, NRF vice president for supply chain and customs policy. “Tariff increases are on hold and progress is being reported in talks between the United States and China, so the imports we’re seeing now are driven primarily by expectations for consumer demand.”

Trade talks between the U.S. and China are about 90 percent finished, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s head of international affairs Myron Brilliant said last week. President Donald Trump also delayed the 15 percent increase in tariffs across $200 billion of goods from China that was scheduled to occur March 2.

Imports in 2018 increased by 6.2 percent to a record of 21.8 million TEUs. The first half of 2019 is expected to total 10.7 million TEUs, a 3.7 growth over the first half of 2018, NRF said.

“The U.S. consumer, while more cautious, has not stopped sping,” said Hackett Associates founder Ben Hackett. “The inventory-to-sales ratio, however, is on the rise. Part of this can be attributed to the heavy front-loading of imports ahead of expected tariff increases that took place in 2018.”

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