Washington, D.C. — Retail imports at major U.S. ports are expected to see their lowest annual totals in four years as the coronavirus continues to affect the economy, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). The NRF forecasts year-end 2020 totals to reach 19.6 million TEUs, which would be a 9.4 percent decrease from 2019 and the lowest number seen since the 19.1 million TEUs of imports in 2016.
The NRF and Hackett Associates released their monthly Global Port Tracker report, which found that U.S. ports handled 1.6 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in June, which was up 4.9 percent from May 2020 but down 10.5 percent year-over-year.
“The economy is recovering but retailers are being careful not to import more than they can sell,” says Jonathan Gold, NRF vice president for supply chain and customs policy. “Shelves will be stocked, but this is not the year to be left with warehouses full of unsold merchandise. The more Congress does to put spending money in consumers’ pockets and provide businesses with liquidity, the sooner we can get back to normal.”