A US retail trade report issued last Tuesday revealed that imports of Chinese products have stabilized after a months-long surge as importers front-loaded shipments in an effort to avoid higher tariffs that were expected to kick in this month, Reuters reports.
The latest data has shown that ports in the US handled 1.81 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) of imports in November, which was up 2.5 percent year-over-year but down 11.4 percent from the record of 2.04 million TEU set in October.
“There have been record-high levels of imports over the past several months, primarily due to raised inventories ahead of expected tariff increases,” Hackett Associates founder Ben Hackett said.
Retailers have “brought in much of their spring merchandise early to protect consumers against higher prices that will eventually come with tariffs,” said Jonathan Gold, NRF’s vice president for supply chain and customs policy.
The Global Port Tracker has predicted that import levels will weaken in the early months of 2019 for two reasons: the first being that the decline is characteristic of this time of year due to the post-holiday drop in demand and Chinese New Year factory shutdowns; the second being that the face-off between the world’s two largest economies will continue to place pressure on the overall global economy.