New NRF Import Data Suggests an Unexpectedly Happy Holiday Season Ahead • The Toy Book

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Despite coming at the end of one of the most challenging years in history, the upcoming holiday season might prove to be pretty good.

The toy industry is well-positioned with a solid lineup of new toys this fall and new data from the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates bodes well for retail as a whole. According to the latest Global Port Tracker Report, retail imports hit unexpected highs this summer and may have hit a new record. The uncertainty of the year has yielded unexpected results across the board with estimates being revised on a month-to-month basis as forecasts early in the pandemic painted a much more dire picture.

“It’s important to be careful how much to read into these numbers after all we’ve seen this year, but retailers are importing far more merchandise for the holidays than we expected even a month ago,” says NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold. “Some of these imports are helping replenish inventories that started to run low after consumers unleashed pent-up demand when stores reopened. But this is the clearest sign yet that we could be in for a much happier holiday season than many had thought.”

Overall numbers are still down 6.7% from last year, but the month-over-month numbers are increasing with July coming in 19.3% ahead of June. August numbers, which are not yet final, are expected to show 6% growth over last year.

The peak season for holiday merchandise shipments runs July-October. The current NRF forecast shows what could be the third-busiest peak season on record if shipments keep coming as they have been.

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