Import cargo volume at the nation's major retail container ports will be a full 25 percent higher during the first half of 2010 compared with the same period a year ago, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released today by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.
"This is a dramatic turnaround over what we've seen during the past two years," NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold says. "Increases in import volumes don't correspond directly with dollar volumes in sales, so caution has to be exercised when looking at these numbers. But retailers are clearly expecting to move more merchandise this year."
U.S. ports handled 1.09 million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) in December, the latest month for which actual numbers are available. That was unchanged from November but up 2.6 percent from December 2008 to break a 28-month streak during which monthly totals were lower than the same month the year before. One TEU is one 20-foot cargo container or its equivalent. The forecast through June 2010 is for a 25 percent upswing.
"This forecast assumes that we are not in a double-dip recession and that a recovery is underway," says Hackett Associates founder Ben Hackett, who disagrees with economists who predict a double-dip. "Although 2009 saw decreased import activity levels, the forecast for 2010 points towards growth."
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