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Retailers Continue to Stock Up Inventory to Get Ahead of More Tariffs

Source: National Retail Federation June 7, 2019

Imports at the nation’s major retail container ports are expected to continue to grow this summer as retailers stock up inventory to get ahead of higher tariffs, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released today by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.

“With a major tariff increase already announced and the possibility that tariffs could be imposed on nearly all goods and inputs from China, retailers are continuing to stock up while they can to protect their customers as much as possible against the price increases that will follow,” NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said.

The Trump administration increased 10 percent tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods to 25 percent in May, with the increase applying to imports that arrive in the United States after June 15. The administration has also proposed to implement new 25 percent tariffs on $300 billion worth of Chinese goods and recently removed India and Turkey from the Generalized System of Preferences program, which allows certain items to be imported duty-free.

U.S. ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.75 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units in April, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was up 8.4 percent from March and up 6.9 percent year-over-year. A TEU is one 20-foot-long cargo container or its equivalent.

May was estimated at 1.88 million TEU, up 3 percent year-over-year. June is forecast at 1.86 million TEU, up 0.3 percent; July at 1.93 million TEU, up 1.1 percent; August at 1.95 million TEU, up 3.3 percent; September at 1.89 million, up 0.9 percent, and October at 1.95 million TEU, down 4.4 percent. The August and October numbers would be the highest monthly totals since the 2 million TEU record set last October as retailers rushed to bring merchandise into the country ahead of expected tariff increases.

Imports during 2018 set a record of 21.8 million TEU, an increase of 6.2 percent over 2017’s previous record of 20.5 million TEU. The first half of 2019 is expected to total 10.6 million TEU, up 3 percent over the first half of 2018.

Click here to access the entire release from the National Retail Federation website.