Retail Import Volume to Grow for Holidays, Says NRF

Container PortWASHINGTON-After modest increases during the summer, import volume at the nation’s major retail container ports should pick up more steam heading into the fall and the holiday season, according to the latest Global Port Tracker report from the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.

Import volume in July should rise 1.1 percent from July of last year, while the increase for August is projected at 1.7 percent, according to the figures in the report. In September, import volume is expected to increase 2.4 percent, followed by gains of 9.1 percent and 7.3 percent for October and November, respectively.

“With the economy recovering slowly, retailers have been cautious with imports this summer, but it’s clear that they expect an upturn later in the year,” said Jonathan Gold, NRF vice president for supply chain and customs policy.

In May, the most recent month with available data, import volume edged up 0.6 percent. June’s number was estimated as a 0.7 percent decline.

While the numbers looking forward look better, Ben Hackett, founder of Hackett Associates, cautioned that the actual volumes will depend on consumer confidence. “Consumer sales remain relatively weak compared with GDP,” Hackett said. “If consumers do not turn their confidence into purchases, then import volumes will drop.”