Ports up 7% in 2017, reflecting retail growth

shipping container port
Cargo containers reached record numbers in U.S. ports in 2017.

Major retail container ports grew 7% in 2017. The growth signifies an increase in sales as a whole for the year, including a strong end with the holiday season.

According to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released by the National Retail Federation (NRF), retailers imported more merchandise than ever to meet the demands for quality products at good prices. As stated earlier, retail had a strong 2017 ruled by growing wages, higher employment rates and a boost in consumer confidence.

More port growth is expected throughout 2018. As most merchandise was already in U.S. ports by November for the holidays, the number of containers were up 5.8% year over year, although down 1.7% from October. 

RELATED: Record number of containers entering U.S. ports

Though December numbers are not finalized, Global Port Tracker estimated 1.6 million TEU (a TEU is one 20-foot-long cargo container). That number would be up 2.6% from December 2016. And that would bring the total for 2017 to 20.1 million TEU, topping last year's record of 18.8 million. The busiest month on record also occurred in 2017, with a total of 1.8 million TEU for the month of August. 

In addition, NRF has forecasted that retail sales overall will grow between 3.2% and 3.8% in total for 2017 over 2016, so while cargo does not correlate directly with sales, it does provide a measurement of expectations.