Data from the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates showed that import volume across the nation’s major retail container ports is expected to increase by 9.1 percent month-over-month in October, despite concerns over the government shutdown.
“With the holidays nearly here, retailers are making sure their shelves are well-stocked,” NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. “Cargo is continuing to move through the ports but the government shutdown has left some agencies short-handed, so NRF will monitor the situation closely as the holidays approach.”
U.S. Customs and Border Patrol has furloughed 6,000 workers as a result of the government shutdown, but Acting Commissioner Thomas Winkowski said the impact on retail container ports should be minimal, with inspectors continuing to process cargo. Other government agencies with a role in clearing cargo, however, are understaffed, leaving retailers wary.
The NRF expects holiday sales to increase year-over-year by 3.9 percent to reach $602.1 billion. August through October are the months when most holiday merchandise is imported into the U.S., with 4.42 million cargo containers expected for the three months.
In August, ports handled 1.48 million cargo containers and 1.47 million in September—year-over-year increases of 3.8 percent and 4.9 percent, respectively. The total for the year is expected to reach 16.3 million containers—a 2.7 percent increase from 15.8 million last year.