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February 13, 2018

U.S. retailers expect imports to grow 4.9 percent in first half of 2018

According to the United States' National Retail Federation's (NRF) monthly Global Port Tracker, imports at the country's major retail container ports are expected to grow a healthy 4.9 percent during the first half of 2018 compared with the same period a year earlier.

"We're forecasting significant sales growth this year and that means retailers will have to import more merchandise to meet consumer demand," NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said.

Ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.72 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units in December, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. With most holiday merchandise already in the country by then, the number was down 2.1 percent from November but up 8.4 percent year-over-year.

The total for 2017 was 20.5 million TEU, topping 2016's record 19.1 million TEU by 7.6 percent.

January was estimated at 1.77 million TEU, up 4.1 percent year-over-year. February is forecast at 1.67 million TEU, up 14.8 percent from last year; March at 1.54 million TEU, down 1.1 percent; April at 1.71 million TEU, up 4.8 percent; May at 1.8 million TEU, up 2.8 percent, and June also at 1.8 million TEU, up 4.9 percent. The February and March percentages are skewed because of changes in when Asian factories close for Lunar New Year each year.

Those numbers would bring the first half of 2018 to a total of 10.3 million TEU, an increase of 4.9 percent over the first half of 2017.

Source: NRF