Imports Expected to Keep Setting Records

Imports at the largest U.S. container ports are expected to continue setting monthly records into next summer.

The pace of imports accelerated in the second half of last year as the economy sought to recover from an economic downturn prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Retail Federal said.

NRT and Hackett Associates said retail sales during the November-December holiday season set a record $789.4 billion, up 8.3 percent over 2019 levels.

Preliminary figures show retail sales for all of 2020 were up 6.8 percent on a year-over-year basis.

U.S. ports covered by NRT’s Global Port Tracker handled 2.11 million 20-foot-equivalent units (TEUs) in December, the latest month for which final numbers are available.

That was an increase of 0.2 percent over November 2020 and a 22.3 percent rise year over the same month in 2019. 

That brought the 2020 total to 22 million TEUs, up 1.9 percent over 2019’s 21.6 million TEUs and besting the record of 21.8 million TEUs recorded in 2018.

Although January results aren’t yet available, volume for the month is projected at 2.08 million TEUs, which would be a 14.6 percent increase over the same month in 2020.

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