- Despite tariffs on billions of dollars worth of imports coming in from China, imports at U.S. container ports are expected to stay at "near record levels," the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates said.
- Retailers "are not able to quickly or easily change their sourcing," Jonathan Gold, NRF vice president for supply chain and customs policy, said in a statement. As a result, many businesses will continue to import products from production facilities in China.
- Consumer demand will keep imports high — NRF projects 2018 holiday sales will increase up to 4.8% over 2017 figures.
When imports volumes spiked at ports this summer, many analysts believed retailers were rushing to import goods before tariffs went into effect.
The latest data from NRF and Hackett Associates' Global Port Tracker paints a different picture. Imports will continue to soar through the holidays, driven by strong consumer demand during peak season.
Shifting supply chains to adjust for tariffs is not always practical or possible, but the costs are beginning to weigh on retailers. Through the end of the year, tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods stand at 10%, but the duties will rise to 25% in January.
While no official announcement has come from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Donald Trump has broached the possibility of tariffs on an additional $267 billion worth of Chinese imports. On Tuesday he said China isn't ready to make a trade deal yet and renewed his threat of additional tariffs.
"The third round of tariffs is now in place, an increase in the level of tariffs is coming, and further tariffs have been threatened," Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett said in a press release. "Consumer prices will no doubt start to rise."