NRF: Retail imports to lift ahead of December tariffs
U.S. retailers are preparing for the impending tariff hike on consumer goods coming in December, driving an increase in imports at the nation's major retail container ports.
According to the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates, imports are expected to hit their highest level of the year in November, just before more tariffs take effect in December.
U.S. ports covered by Global Port Tracker are expected to handle 1.97 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEU) in November, which would be an 8.9 percent year-over-year increase, and tie August as the second-highest number of containers in a single month.
“This is the last chance to bring merchandise into the country before virtually everything the United States imports from China comes under tariffs,” NRF vice president for supply chain and customs policy, Jonathan Gold said.
“Retailers are doing all they can to mitigate the impact of tariffs on their customers. The effect on prices will vary by retailer and product during the holiday season, but ultimately these taxes on America businesses and consumers will result in higher prices.”
Since September, a 15 percent tariff on a wide range of consumer goods from China took effect. It's scheduled to be expanded to additional goods on December 15 – covering a total of about $300 billion in imports.
Next however, imports are expected to fall to 1.78 million TEU in December, down 9.3 percent year-over-year, as December’s tariffs take effect. Imports are equally expected to fall in both January and February 2020.
“The strength of retail consumption will push any meaningful slowdown in imports into next year, when the full impact of the tariff wars will be translated into a consumption tax felt by consumers,” Hackett Associates founder, Ben Hackett, said.
The first half of 2019 totaled 10.5 million TEU, up 2.1 percent over the first half of 2018, and 2019 is expected to see a new record of 22 million TEU.
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