"Retail sales have seen 22 straight months of year-over-year sales increases, and these import projections suggest retailers should see growth into the two-year mark and beyond," NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. "Cargo numbers don't correlate directly into sales numbers, but they are an indicator of how much retailers think they can sell."
U.S. ports followed by Global Port Tracker, which is produced for NRF by consulting firm Hackett Associates, handled 1.23 million twenty-foot equivalent units in April, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was up 3.9 percent from March and 1.5 percent from April 2011.
May was estimated at 1.29 million TEUs, up 0.5 percent from a year ago, and June is forecast at 1.31 million TEUs, up 4.8 percent from the same time last year. July is forecast at 1.36 million TEUs, up 2.5 percent; August at 1.42 million TEUs, up 7.3 percent; September at 1.45 million TEUs, up 9 percent, and October at 1.53 million TEUs, up 19.9 percent over unusually low numbers last year.
The first half of 2012 should total 7.3 million TEUs, up 2 percent from the same period last year. The total for 2011 was 14.8 million TEUs, up 0.4 percent from 2010's 14.75 million TEUs. NRF projects 2012 retail sales will grow 3.4 percent to $2.53tr.
"Consumer demand for durables has been weak for quite some time and dropped further in May, yet at the same time consumer confidence is at its highest level since 2007," Hackett Associates founder Ben Hackett said. "Confused? So is the average consumer."
Global Port Tracker covers the U.S. ports of Long Angeles/Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle and Tacoma on the West Coast; New York/New Jersey, Hampton Roads, Charleston and Savannah on the East Coast; and Houston on the Gulf Coast.
Source: National Retail Federation
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