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Imports at the nation's major retail container ports rose 7 percent in 2017 over 2016, as retail sales grew throughout the year and ended with a strong holiday season, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF).The 2017 total for ports covered by the Global Port Tracker is expected to be 20.1 million 20-foot-equivalent units (TEUs), topping last year's record of 18.8 million TEUs by 7 percent, according to an NRF press release.The Global Port Tracker is produced for NRF by the consulting firm Hackett Associates.December was estimated at 1.6 million TEUs, up 2.6 percent year over year. Ports handled 1.74 million TEUs in November, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. With most holiday merchandise already in the country by that point, the number was down 1.7 percent from October, but up 5.8 percent year over year."Retail had a strong year fueled by growing wages, higher employment and a boost in consumer confidence," said Jonathan Gold, NRF's vice president for supply chain and customs policy. "Retailers imported more merchandise than ever to meet demand for quality products at affordable prices, and growth is expected to continue in the year ahead."