Retail Import Cargo Volume to Rise 9.1 Percent in October

Retail Import CargoWASHINGTON-Import volume at the nation’s major retail container ports will increase 9.1 percent this month over October of last year, according to the most recent Global Port Tracker report from the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.

The numbers released this morning reflect merchandise ordered months before the government shutdown by retailers planning for the holiday season. An NRF statement said U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has furloughed 6,000 workers because of the shutdown, which began last week, but that the ports will remain open and the impact of these furloughs on the ports should be “minimal,” according to Thomas Winkowski, CBP acting commissioner. However, other agencies that have a role in clearing cargo at the ports have not remained as staffed as CBP, making retailers cautious over the situation.

In August, the most recent month with available data, retail imports rose 3.8 percent over August of 2012. The Global Tracker Report projected that September’s volume will rise 4.9 percent. November’s volume is expected to gain 3.4 percent, while December will see a 1.8 percent increase in volume. January will bring a 2.9 percent rise, followed by an 8.1 percent drop in February.

Jonathan Gold, NRF’s vice president for supply chain and customs policy, said, “With the holidays nearly here, retailers are making sure their shelves are well stocked.” With some agencies involved in imports shorthanded due to the shutdown, Gold said NRF “will monitor the situation closely as the holidays approach.”