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Import cargo volume at the nation's major retail container ports is expected to be down 6.8 percent in February from the same month a year ago, but should show year-over-year increases through most of the remaining first half of 2012, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released today by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.
"With consumer confidence building, retailers are optimistic that the economy is recovering but are continuing to be cautious with their inventory levels," said Jonathan Gold, NRF vice president for supply chain and customs policy. "Merchants want to be sure that growth will be sustained and that demand will be there to meet supply."
U.S. ports followed by Global Port Tracker handled 1.17 million twenty-foot equivalent units in December, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was down 6 percent from November since holiday merchandise was already on the shelves but up 2 percent from December 2010. It also brought 2011 to a close at 14.8 million TEUs, up 0.4 percent from 2010's 14.75 million TEUs.
January 2012 was estimated at 1.17 million TEUs, down 3.3 percent from January 2011, and February, historically the slowest month of the year, is forecast at 1.03 million TEUs, down 6.8 percent from a year ago. Increases are expected to resume in March, forecast at 1.18 million TEUs, up 8.6 percent from last year. April is forecast at 1.25 million TEUs, up 2.4 percent; May at 1.28 million TEUs, down 0.7 percent; and June at 1.28 million, up 3 percent. The first half of 2012 should total 7.18 million TEUs, up 0.5 percent from the same period last year.
"Current statistics suggest that the economy will continue to improve as we continue into 2012," Hackett Associates founder Ben Hackett said. "The question is will wholesalers and retailers be able to manage their inventories as well as they did in 2011? Most likely, yes."
Global Port Tracker, which is produced for NRF by the consulting firm Hackett Associates, covers the ports of Long Angeles/Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle, Tacoma, New York/New Jersey, Hampton Roads, Charleston, Savannah and Houston.
The report is free to NRF retail members, and subscription information is available by clicking here or by calling (202) 783-7971. Subscription information for non-members can be found by clicking here.
Source: National Retail Federation
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