U.S. ports handled 21.8 million TEUs in December, a 6.2 percent increase year-over-year.
“With trade talks with China still unresolved, retailers appear to be bringing spring merchandise into the country early in case tariffs go up in March,” Jonathan Gold, NRF vice president for supply chain and customs policy, said. “We are hopeful that the talks will succeed, but until the trade war is behind us, retailers need to do what they can to mitigate the higher prices that will inevitably come with tariffs.”
U.S. tariffs of 10 percent on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods that took effect last September are scheduled to increase to 25 percent on March 1 unless negotiations that began in December are successful.
U.S. ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.97 million TEUs in December. That was up 8.8 percent from November and 13.9 percent year-over-year. That brought 2018 to a record 21.8 million TEUs, an increase of 6.2 percent over 2017’s previous record of 20.5 million TEUs.
January was estimated at 1.83 million TEUs, up 4.1 percent from January 2018. February is forecast at 1.78 million TEUs, up 5.7 percent year-over-year; March at 1.6 million TEUs, up 3.8 percent; April at 1.76 million TEUs, up 7.7 percent; May at 1.89 million TEUs, up 3.4 percent; and June at 1.86 million TEUs, up 0.3 percent. That would bring the first half of 2019 to 10.7 million TEUs, up 4.1 percent over the first half of 2018.
“U.S. containerized imports continue to be robust with retailers and other businesses trying to beat potential tariff increases in March,” Hackett Associates founder Ben Hackett said. “The problem is that warehouses and storage facilities are running out of space.”
Global Port Tracker, which is produced for NRF by the consulting firm Hackett Associates, covers the U.S. ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle and Tacoma on the West Coast; New York/New Jersey, Virginia, Charleston, Savannah, Everglades, Miami and Jacksonville on the East Coast; and Houston on the Gulf Coast.