U.S. imports surge as pandemic worries have retailers stockpiling

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U.S. imports leapt 5.9% to a record in August, the first year-over-year rise since September 2019, according Panjiva, the supply chain research unit of S&P Global Market Intelligence. It said imports of household appliances jumped 79.7%, and furniture imports increased 38.1%, fueled by orders from retailers like IKEA and Target.

The Port of Los Angeles, the nation’s busiest seaport, unloaded thousands of containers from seven unscheduled cargo ships in August. President Donald Trump’s trade war with China makes many imports costlier, but retailers said they don’t want to risk running out of merchandise if COVID-19 infections upend supply chains again.

Chicago-area retailer Abt Electronics is snapping up brand-name refrigerators from suppliers in countries like South Korea and building reserves of flat-screen TVs. Appliance makers are still catching up from factory closures earlier this year, said co-President Mike Abt, who is carrying about 20% more of those items than last year.

At the port serving the greater New York area, shipments linked to IKEA soared 380%, while those for spirits maker Diageo and cosmetics group L’Oreal rose 91% and 25.5%, respectively, Panjiva said. Many large retailers are starting holiday promotions before Halloween as a hedge against upheavals that could cause consumers to snap wallets shut. 

U.S. imports surge as pandemic worries have retailers stockpiling, Reuters, Sep 25

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