US retail imports slow down but remain strong ahead tariff increase

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Imports have usually dropped off significantly by this time of year but we’re still seeing numbers that could have set records in the past. Part of this is driven by consumer demand in the strong economy but retailers also know that tariffs on the latest round of goods are set to more than double in just a few weeks. If there are shipments that can be moved up, it makes sense to do that before the price goes up,

…said NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold.

Key figures

  • US ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.87 million TEUs in September, which was down 1.3 % from August but up 4.6% year-over-year.
  • October was estimated at 1.89 million TEU, up 5.5% year-over-year.
  • November is forecast at 1.81 million TEU, up 2.8 %, and December at 1.79 million TEU, up 3.8 %. January 2019 is forecast at 1.81 million TEU, up 2.8 % over January 2018; February at 1.7 million TEU, up 0.4 % year-over-year, and March at 1.59 million TEU, up 3.3 %.
  • Imports set a monthly record of 1.9 million TEU in July ahead of 10 % tariffs on $200 billion in goods from China that took effect in September and are scheduled to rise to 25 % in January.
  • While not overall records, October, November and December’s numbers are each the highest on record for those months. Before this year, the highest monthly number on record was 1.83 million TEU set in August 2017.
  • The first half of 2018 totaled 10.3 million TEU, an increase of 5.1 % over the first half of 2017.
  • The total for 2018 is expected to reach 21.4 million TEU, an increase of 4.4 % over last year’s record 20.5 million TEU.

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