- Retailers are bringing in merchandise for the upcoming shopping seasons at record rates in anticipation of the beginning of enforcement of new tariffs on Chinese imports and the ever-present possibility of more, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF).
- Import volumes are expected to eventually fall due to the Chinese tariffs, but not until early 2019, when Ben Hackett, founder of International Trade Consultants Hackett Associates, said that the economy will dip as a result of the uncertainty surrounding global trade.
- China has pledged to implement 25% tariffs on $16 billion worth of U.S. imports starting Aug. 23.
NRF based its assertion that retailers are hustling to import enough goods to last the year on the number of containers coming into U.S. ports. The number of containers covered by NRF's Global Port Tracker increased 1.6% from May to June, and the June totals represent a 7.8% increase year over year.
The June number set a new record for the number of containers imported during a single month. Both July and August are expected to post record high numbers of containers coming in as well.
"Tariffs on most consumer products have yet to take effect but retailers appear to be getting prepared before that can happen," NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said in a press release. "The good news for consumers is that avoiding tariffs holds off price increases that will inevitably come if the reckless and misguided trade war is allowed to continue."
NRF emphasized that imports don't necessarily mean sales, but the solid number of containers coming into the country could indicate that retail sales during the crucial holiday season won't flounder because of tariffs, at least not this year.