NRF: Retail Imports Gain As Holidays Approach

Global Port Tracker, an ongoing survey sponsored by the National Retail Federation and produced by market research firm Hackett Associates Import, estimates that cargo container volume at major retail container ports will grow 5.1% in September over the same month last year. The estimate suggests that retailers are stocking up more optimistically this year than last as they head into the holiday season.

“Retailers are making up for the slow imports seen earlier in the year,” NRF vp/supply chain and customs policy Jonathan Gold said. “It’s too early to predict holiday sales, but merchants are clearly stocking up.”

U.S. ports that Global Port Tracker follows handled 1.43 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units in July, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available, a 5.4% increase over June and up 1.1% from July 2012. The summer gain follows year-over-year declines in three of the four previous months.

The Global Port Tracker estimate came in at 1.48 million TEU, up 4.1% from the month last year. The available data suggests that October will see 1.46 million TEU move, up 9% year over year; November, 1.31 million TEU, up 2.2% and December, 1.3 million TEU, up 0.7%. The Global Port Tracker estimate for January 2014 is 1.33 million TEU, up 1.9% from January of this year.

The total Global Port Tracker forecast for 2012 is for 16.2 million TEU moved, up 2.5% from 2012’s 15.8 million TEU.

“The U.S. economy is on the road to sustained growth,” Hackett Associates founder Ben Hackett said in comments on the latest Global Port Tracker estimates. “Second-quarter GDP was well above expectations and surprised most forecasters, the unemployment picture is improving, and we believe consumer confidence will translate into increased sales during the fourth quarter.”