According to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released today by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates, imports at the nation’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. Toys are not currently being subjected to these tariffs.
Ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.82 million twenty-foot equivalent (TEU) 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. 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.
The June number tied the record of 1.83 million TEU imported during a single month set in August 2017, and the forecast for July would break that record while August should set yet another record.
While cargo numbers do not correlate directly with sales, the record imports mirror strong results seen by retailers this spring and expectations of continued growth through the remainder of the year. Retail sales as calculated by NRF – excluding automobiles, restaurants, and gasoline stations – were up 5.6 percent year-over-year in May and up 4.6 percent on a three-month moving average. NRF forecasts that total 2018 sales will be up between 3.8 percent and 4.4 percent over 2017.
The first half of 2018 is expected to total 10.3 million TEU, an increase of 4.9 percent over the first half of 2017. The total for 2017 was 20.5 million TEU, up 7.6 percent from 2016’s previous record of 19.1 million TEU.
Global Port Tracker, which is produced for NRF by the consulting firm Hackett Associates, covers the U.S. ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle, and Tacoma on the West Coast; New York/New Jersey, Port of Virginia, Charleston, Savannah, Port Everglades, Miami, and Jacksonville on the East Coast; and Houston on the Gulf Coast. The report is free to NRF retail members, and subscription information is available at nrf.com/PortTracker or by calling (202) 783-7971. Subscription information for non-members can be found at www.globalporttracker.com.