Science & Technology

How tariff surges affect retail imports: overview

Despite the uncertainties of a trade war with China, Donald Trump is scheduled to sign a “Phase One” partial trade deal

retail imports

How tariff surges affect retail imports: overview. Source:

According to the Global Port Tracker report, volume at the nation’s major retail container ports will likely return to its usual seasonal patterns during the first months of 2020.

We’ll be more confident after we see the Phase One agreement signed, but right now 2020 looks like it should be back to what used to be normal. We’ve been through a cycle of imports surging ahead of expected tariff increases – some of which got delayed, reduced or canceled – and falling off again afterward. That’s not good for retailers trying to manage their inventory levels or trying to make long-term business plans. And tariffs are never good for consumers, businesses or the economy
Jonathan Gold, NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy

Covered by Global Port Tracker US ports handled 1.67 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEU) in November 2019. That was down 11.2% compared to October and 7.5% year-over-year. Compared to December 2018, last year was estimated at 1.7 million TEU, down 13.4%.

January is forecast at 1.8 million TEU, down 5% from January 2019. At the same time, February is forecast to be down at 1.54 million TEU, whereas March is expected to be up at 1.7 million TEU. April is forecast at 1.78 million TEU, up 2.1% year-over-year, and May at 1.87 million TEU as summer merchandise arrives.


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