US Ports' Retail Imports Predicted to Rise Despite Sequestration
With US Customs officials saying they hope to minimize the impact of federal spending cuts on cargo processing, import volume at the nation’s major retail container ports is expected to increase 2.7 percent in April over the same month last year.
“The impact of sequestration isn’t yet fully known, but Customs officials are working hard to manage their resources and keep cargo moving,” NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. “Between their efforts to avoid delays and retailers’ adjustments to compensate, we’re not expecting consumers to see any difference on store shelves at this point. We are working closely with Customs to ensure that that remains the case.”
U.S. Customs and Border Protection told businesses last week that federal “sequestration” cuts that took effect in March could still have a “serious impact” on the agency, including increased wait times for customs inspections at ports. But officials said recent passage of the Fiscal Year 2013 appropriations bill by Congress “allows CPB to mitigate to some degree the impacts.” Staff furloughs and cuts in overtime that were previously expected have not been canceled but have been put on hold.
NRF has been participating in weekly conference calls held by CPB leadership with key trade associations and making sure the agency is aware of retailers’ concerns and the impact sequestration cuts could have on the industry, consumer spending and the economy.
“Economic indicators continue to present a mixed picture of the prospects for the remainder of the year,” Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett said. “Sequestration does not help but on the other hand is not yet a major factor to take into account.”