December Retail Imports to Rise on Strong Holiday Sales

Retailers to make last inventory push for the holidays
December 12, 2016David Gill

containership3x2WASHINGTON-Import cargo volume at the nation’s major retail ports is expected to increase by 3.2 percent this month, according to the latest Global Port Tracker report from the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.

“There’s still shopping to be done, and retailers are making sure the gifts that need to be under a tree are waiting on the shelves,” said Jonathan Gold, NRF’s vice president for supply chain and customs policy. “Imports are up a healthy amount over this time last year, and that’s a good sign for holiday sales and the economy.”

In October, the most recent month with available hard data, import volume rose 4.6 percent over September and 7.4 percent over October 2015. The estimate for November is a 3.6 percent increase over last year’s November. January’s volume is projected at 3.2 percent ahead of January 2016, to be followed by a 3.5 percent decline in February, a 4.4 percent gain in March and a pickup of 6.4 percent in April.

Total cargo volume for 2016 is expected to rise 2 percent over 2015’s volume. NRF has forecasted $655.8 billion in holiday season sales, up 3.6 percent from last year.

The projected 2 percent gain for this year means that the trend of imports exceeding growth of gross domestic product appears to have ended, said Ben Hackett, founder of Hackett Associates. “This is a new phenomenon,” Hackett said. “It was not long ago when industry leaders were doing their forecasts based on trade growth outpacing GDP by a ratio of more than two to one. Those days are gone.”

David GillDavid Gill | Contributing Editor

David Gill is a contributing editor to HFN.

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