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US retailers to maintain high levels of imports through summer

US retailers will not be letting up on their ordering binge this summer, projecting that import volumes will remain at record or near-record levels through August, reports IHS Media

11 April 2021 - 19:00
US retailers will not be letting up on their ordering binge this summer, projecting that import volumes will remain at record or near-record levels through August, reports IHS Media.

The message to ocean carriers, ports, railroads, truckers, warehouses, and equipment providers is that they must marshall their assets and expand capacity in order to handle container volumes through the 2021 peak shipping season or the congestion issues they have dealt with since last summer could get worse as that peak season approaches.



Jonathan Gold, vice president for supply chain and customs policy at the National Retail Federation (NRF), said in the April Global Port Tracker released last week: We've never seen imports at this high a level for such an extended period of time. Records have been broken multiple times, and near-record numbers are happening almost every month,'



Global Port Tracker, which is published monthly by the NRF and Hackett Associates, said through August, imports are projected to have been at or above 2 million TEU in 11 of the 13 months August 2020. Before 2020, monthly imports had reached 2 million TEU only once, in October 2018, Global Port Tracker said.



The retail inventories-to-sales ratio in January was 1.19, the lowest since 1992, according to the US Census Bureau. The NRF projects the consumer spending spree will continue at least through the summer.



'Between federal stimulus checks and money saved by staying home for the better part of a year, customers have money in their pockets, and they're spending it with retailers as fast as retailers can stock their shelves,' Mr Gold said.



Global Port Tracker expects imports for March to come in at 2.07 million TEU, up 50.7 per cent from March 2020, which was the slowest month of that year. Imports are projected to be 1.99 million TEU in April, up 23.4 per cent year over year; 2 million TEU in May, up 30.6 per cent; 2.01 million TEU in June, up 24.9 per cent; and 2.04 million TEU in July, up 6.5 per cent.



Imports in August will exceed 2 million TEU at a still-robust 2.08 million TEU, but will be down 1.2 per cent year over year, retailers forecast. August was the second-busiest month of 2020, surpassed only by October, according to Global Port Tracker.


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