Import cargo volume at US major retail container ports will be flat in May compared to the same month last year, but is expected to see solid year-over-year hikes through this summer and the back-to-school season, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report produced for the National Retail Federation (NRF) by the consulting firm Hackett Associates.
"Consumers are spending despite gas prices and other economic concerns, so retailers are stocking up to meet the demand," NRF Vice-President for supply chain and customs policy, Mr Jonathan Gold, said. "These numbers show imports growing through the back-to-school season and even into beginning of the shipping cycle for the holiday season. That’s a sign that retailers are expecting a good year."
US ports followed by Global Port Tracker handled 1.18 million TEUs in March, the latest month for which numbers were available. That was up 14.1 per cent from February, traditionally the slowest month of the year, and 8.5 per cent from March 2011.
April was estimated at 1.24 million TEUs, up two per cent from a year ago, and May is forecast at 1.28 million TEUs, the same as last year. June is forecast at 1.3 million TEUs, up four per cent; July at 1.35 million TEUs, up 1.8 per cent; August at 1.42 million TEUs, up 7.2 per cent, and September at 1.45 million TEUs, up 8.7 per cent.
The first half of 2012 is expected to total 7.3 million TEUs, up 1.9 per cent from the same period last year. The total for 2011 was 14.8 million TEUs, up 0.4 per cent from 2010’s 14.75 million TEUs. NRF projects 2012 retail sales will grow 3.4 per cent to $2.53 trillion.
"The economy is on the mend and all the leading economic indicators continue to point the way toward positive growth," Hackett Associates founder, Mr Ben Hackett, said. "2011 was a year of uncertainty that resulted in virtually no growth in import volume but we are witnessing a resurgence of confidence and demand."