A container ship passes beneath the Golden Gate Bridge

Source: Pixabay

Forecasting in the COVID-19 era continues to be a fluid endeavor.

The latest Global Port Tracker report released by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates shows that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on retail imports may not be as bad as previously expected.

“The numbers we’re seeing are still below last year, but are better than what we expected a month ago,” says NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold “It may still be too soon to say, but we’ll take that as a sign that the situation could be slowly starting to improve. Consumers want to get back to shopping, and as more people get back to work, retailers want to be sure their shelves are stocked.”

Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett notes that the import numbers have been an erratic rollercoaster this year. Accordingly, forecasts for the months ahead have been adjusted once more, reflecting the assumption that shipments to ports will remain below 2019 levels, but not as low as the previous models indicated.

“Getting 40 million people back to work will take time, especially with many fearful of catching the virus and staying home,” Hackett says.  “That makes a rapid return to an economic boom unlikely.”

Spring season was a mixed bag this year as retail numbers hit record lows while major retailers gained market share due to smaller businesses being closed.