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May 10, 2017

U.S. retailers expect steady import increases through the summer and into the fall

According to the United States' National Retail Federation's (NRF) monthly Global Port Tracker, import cargo volumes at U.S. major retail container ports should see steady increases through the summer and into the fall.

"Regardless of whether the sales come in their stores or through their websites, retailers see that consumers are buying more this year and they're importing the goods needed to meet the demand," NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. "With unemployment at its lowest level in a decade and the economy adding jobs, retailers expect shoppers to continue to increase their spending."

Ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.53 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units in March, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available.

That was up 6.8 percent from February, when many Asian factories closed for Lunar New Year, and up 15.8 percent from unusually low numbers the same month a year ago, when Lunar New Year came a week later than this year. One TEU is one 20-foot-long cargo container or its equivalent.

April was estimated at 1.56 million TEU, up 8.3 percent from the same time last year. May is forecast at 1.66 million TEU, up 2.6 percent from last year; June at 1.62 million TEU, up 3.3 percent; July at 1.68 million TEU, up 3.1 percent; August at 1.74 million TEU, up 1.6 percent, and September at 1.65 million TEU, up 3.6 percent.

The first half of 2017 is expected to total 9.5 million TEU, up 5.6 percent from the first half of 2016. Cargo volume for 2016 totaled 18.8 million TEU, up 3.1 percent from 2015, which had grown 5.4 percent from 2014.

Source: NRF