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            october 19, 2019

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US October box imports to rise 9.9pc as stores stock up


US import cargo at big American container ports is expected to increase 9.9 per cent in October as merchants stock up for Christmas, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker commissioned by the National Retail Federation (NRF).
"The NRF's annual forecast says retailers should see solid growth during the holiday season this year and these cargo numbers back it up," said federation vice president Jonathan Gold. "Increased imports show that retailers have gauged the market and expect increased sales."
US ports followed by Global Port Tracker handled 1.42 million TEU in August, the latest month for which actual results are available. That was up 6.7 per cent from July and 3.3 per cent from August 2011.
"September was estimated at 1.49 million TEU, up eight per cent from last year, and October is forecast at 1.45 million TEU, up 9.9 per cent. August, September and October are the three busiest months of the year as retailers bring merchandise into the country for the holiday season, and volume for the three months combined is up seven per cent. While cargo volume doesn't correlate directly with sales, NRF forecasts that holiday sales will increase 4.1 per cent to US$586.1 billion this year," the release said.
With most holiday merchandise in distribution centres by the end of October, monthly cargo volume will drop off for the remainder of the year but will remain above 2011 levels, said the report. November is forecast at 1.32 million TEU, up 2.4 per cent from last year, and December is forecast at 1.28 million TEU, up 4.6 per cent.
After the holidays, said Port Tracker, January 2013 is forecast to stay at 1.28 million TEU, down 0.5 per cent from January 2012, and February is forecast at 1.19 million TEU, up nine per cent from a year earlier.
The first half of 2012 totalled 7.7 million TEU, up 2.9 per cent from the same period last year. For the full year, 2012 is expected to total 16 million TEU, up 4.1 per cent from 2011.
Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett noted that some retailers brought cargo into the country early because of the threat of an east coast dock strike.
"Inventories are up, which could be due to lack of demand, but it could also be due to pre-stocking in anticipation of the dock strike that didn't come," Mr Hackett said.
The Global Port Tracker survey covers Long Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle, Tacoma, New York/New Jersey, Hampton Roads, Charleston, Savannah, Port Everglades, Miami and Houston.

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