US retail imports strong after latest tariff round: NRF

2018/10 18 12:10

US retail imports strong after latest tariff round: NRF

Imports at major US retail container ports are expected to remain at near-record levels this month despite a new round of tariffs that took effect in September, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report of the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates. The latter’s founder Ben Hackett said consumer prices will no doubt start to rise. “Retailers are continuing to import merchandise in order to meet consumer demand even though tariffs are now in place on roughly half the goods imported from China and the trade war is still escalating,” NRF vice president for supply chain and customs policy Jonathan Gold said. “Retailers are doing their best to mitigate the impact on their customers, but they are not able to quickly or easily change their sourcing. That means these tariffs will eventually mean higher prices for American consumers,” an NRF press release quoted Gold as saying. Ports covered by the tracker handled 1.89 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) in August. That was down 0.6 per cent from July but up 3.4 per cent year-over-year. A TEU is one 20-foot-long cargo container or its equivalent. September was estimated at 1.84 million TEU, up 2.7 per cent year-over-year. October is forecast at 1.87 million TEU, up 4.3 per cent; November at 1.8 million TEU, up 2.3 per cent, and December at 1.79 million TEU, up 4 per cent. January 2019 is forecast at 1.77 million TEU, up 0.7 per cent over January 2018, and February is forecast at 1.63 million TEU, down 3.5 per cent year-over-year. Until this year, the record for the number of containers imported during a single month was 1.83 million TEU in August 2017. But that record was broken this June, when 1.85 million TEU were imported, and again in July, with 1.9 million TEU. October will be the fifth month in a row to top last year’s peak. While cargo numbers do not correlate directly with sales, the imports mirror this year’s strong retail sales. The first half of 2018 totalled 10.3 million TEU, an increase of 5.1 per cent over the first half of 2017. The total for 2018 is expected to reach 21.4 million TEU, an increase of 4.4 per cent over last year’s record 20.5 million TEU. (DS)

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