The combination of a hold on the Chinese and U.S. tariff deals and a slower season for business led U.S. imports to the lowest numbers seen since about a year ago, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates. In January, just under two million TEUs came through U.S. ports, which is down nearly 4% from December 2018, and down 7.4% year-over-year.
The NRF and Hackett project numbers will continue to dip. The forecasts estimate around 1.59 million imports will flow through U.S. ports in March, which would mark the lowest level of imports since April 2018.
The beginning of the calendar year typically means less sales are being made with the holiday shopping season ending, but uncertainty around U.S. and China trade deals makes the importation market even more volatile than usual. A deal was set to be reached at the beginning of March, but that date has been postponed indefinitely. Without a grasp on what will happen in the future, importations will likely continue to drop.
—Christie Citranglo, editorial associate