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July 11, 2018

U.S. retailers say imports are expected to set a new record this month

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 set a new record this month even though new tariffs on goods from China just took effect. The NRF says the volume is driven by increasing consumer demand and rising retail sales.

"Retailers cannot easily or quickly change their global supply chains, so imports from China and elsewhere are expected to continue to grow for the foreseeable future," NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. "As tariffs begin to hit imported consumer goods or the parts and equipment needed to produce U.S. goods, these hidden taxes will mean higher prices for Americans rather than significant changes to international trade."

"July 6 was the beginning of the United States' trade war," Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett said, referring to U.S. tariffs on $34 billion in Chinese products that took effect on Friday. "There will be no winners, only losers - particularly consumers - as costs increase."

Ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.82 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units in May, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was up 11.6 percent from April as the annual wave of summer merchandise began to arrive and up 4.3 percent year-over-year. A TEU is one 20-foot-long cargo container or its equivalent.

June was estimated at 1.83 million TEU, up 6.8 percent year-over-year. The June number tied the record of 1.83 million TEU imported during a single month set in August 2017.

July is forecast at 1.87 million TEU, up 3.8 percent; August at 1.91 million TEU, up 4.2 percent; September at 1.82 million TEU, up 2.1 percent; October at 1.89 million, up 5.3 percent, and November at 1.81 million TEU, up 2.6 million TEU.

Source: NRF