With Thanksgiving in the rear view mirror and the Christmas holiday season kicking into high gear, now is the time to think of Pre-Compliance especially with the grave risks associated with shopping online and not knowing your supplier. As Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday commercial activity spikes, CBP is, in specific connection with online sales, warns consumers and merchants alike to be on the lookout for holiday shopping scams and/or criminal trade practices. Red flags to watch for in this regard include offers designed to induce the purchase of counterfeit and/or unsafe goods, prices that are too good to be true, e-commerce sites that lack legitimate phone numbers and/or addresses, and sellers who lack good customer feedback.

With an eye to helping consumers and merchants safely navigate the complexities associated with the steady rise of global e-commerce, CBP recently announced the launch of its e-Commerce and Small Business Branch. Noting how worldwide e-commerce sales are projected to surpass $4 trillion by 2020, this new Branch demonstrates, in the view of Office of Trade Executive Assistant Brenda Smith, CBP’s commitment to support small and microbusiness while addressing the challenges posed by this dynamic trading environment.”

According to census data, U.S. retail e-commerce sales for the second quarter of 2016 totaled $97.3 billion, an increase of 4.5 percent (±0.9 %) from the first quarter of 2016. Whereas total retail sales for the second quarter of 2016 were estimated at $1,201.9 billion an increase of only 1.5 percent (±0.4%) from the first quarter of 2016. The second quarter 2016 e-commerce estimate increased 15.8 percent (±1.8%) from the second quarter of 2015, while total retail sales ONLY increased 2.3 percent (±0.5%) in the same period. E-commerce sales in the second quarter of 2016 accounted for 8.1 percent of total sales. Bottom line, were shopping online more and more.

We will be blogging more about this new Branch as more information is made available. We highly encourage all new (and even experienced) importers to know the “Top 10 Tips” when importing and ensure you have a compliance plan in place so you’re not duped this holiday season. If you want to get your compliance plan started, contact us at info@diaztradelaw.com.