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June 12, 2017

U.S. retailers expect imports to reach record level by the end of summer

According to the United States' National Retail Federation's (NRF) monthly Global Port Tracker, the rate of import growth at the U.S. major retail container ports has begun to slow after double-digit surges earlier this year but volume should nonetheless hit an all-time high by the end of the summer.

"Year-over-year comparisons are slowing down but that's largely because we had some unusual numbers early this year and strong volume in the second half of last year," NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. "Despite that, we're expecting some of the largest import volumes we've ever seen, and that's because retailers are responding to strong consumer demand."

Ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.61 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units in April, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available.

That was up 4.8 percent from March and up 11.3 percent from April 2016. One TEU is one 20-foot-long cargo container or its equivalent.

May was estimated at 1.69 million TEU, up 3.9 percent from the same time last year. June is forecast at 1.64 million TEU, up 4.1 percent from last year; July at 1.68 million TEU, up 3.5 percent; August at 1.74 million TEU, up 1.6 percent; September at 1.64 million TEU, up 2.8 percent, and October at 1.69 million TEU, up 1.3 percent.

The August figure would be the highest monthly volume recorded since NRF began tracking imports in 2000, topping the 1.73 million TEU seen in March 2015. The May and October numbers would be among the five highest ever recorded.

Source: NRF