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October 11, 2018

American retailers expect imports to remain at near-record levels 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 remain at near-record levels this month .

"Retailers are continuing to import merchandise in order to meet consumer demand even though tariffs are now in place on roughly half the goods imported from China and the trade war is still escalating," NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. "Retailers are doing their best to mitigate the impact on their customers, but they are not able to quickly or easily change their sourcing. That means these tariffs will eventually mean higher prices for American consumers."

"The third round of tariffs is now in place, an increase in the level of tariffs is coming, and further tariffs have been threatened," Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett said. "Consumer prices will no doubt start to rise."

Ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.89 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units in August, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was down 0.6 percent from July but up 3.4 percent year-over-year. A TEU is one 20-foot-long cargo container or its equivalent.

September was estimated at 1.84 million TEU, up 2.7 percent year-over-year. October is forecast at 1.87 million TEU, up 4.3 percent; November at 1.8 million TEU, up 2.3 percent, and December at 1.79 million TEU, up 4 percent. January 2019 is forecast at 1.77 million TEU, up 0.7 percent over January 2018, and February is forecast at 1.63 million TEU, down 3.5 percent year-over-year.

Source: NRF