Following updated forecasts that changed from an anticipated spike in May to declines throughout much of the year, the latest Global Port Tracker from the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates indicates continued declines of imports shipped to U.S. retail container ports due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Factories in China are largely back online and stores that closed here in the U.S. are starting to reopen, but volume is far lower than what we would see in a normal year,” says NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold. “Shoppers will come back and there is still a need for essential items, but the economic recovery will be gradual and retailers will adjust the amount of merchandise they import to meet demand.”
Import numbers at U.S. container ports are available through March, which was down 9.1% from February and logged the lowest volume since March 2016. Imports were down 14.8% during the first quarter when compared to last year.
“Our view is that second-quarter economic growth will be significantly worse than the previous quarter, but we continue to expect recovery to come in the second half of the year, especially the fourth quarter and into 2021,” says Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett. “This is based on the big and somewhat tenuous assumption that there is no second wave of the virus.”
Current NRF forecasts predict a 13.4% decline for last month, a 20.4% drop this month, an 18.6% decrease for next month, followed by a 19.3% drop in July, a 12% decline in August, and a 9.3% dip in September.