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WASHINGTON, June 10, 2010 – Import cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports is expected to be up 15 percent in June compared with the same month a year ago, and double-digit increases should continue into the fall as the U.S. economy recovers, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released today by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.
“Cargo import numbers are up but retailers are looking closely at other economic indicators to make sure they are sourcing the appropriate amount of merchandise based on consumer demand,” NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. “Job creation remains a key factor that’s going to affect consumer spending and retail sales.”
U.S. ports handled 1.15 million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units in April, the latest month for which actual numbers are available. That was up 7 percent from March and up 16 percent from April 2009. It was also the fifth month in a row to show a year-over-year improvement after December broke a 28-month streak of year-over-year monthly declines. One TEU is one 20-foot cargo container or its equivalent.
May was estimated at 1.16 million TEU, a 12 percent increase over last year as spring products hit store shelves and summer merchandise followed close behind. June is forecast to remain at 1.16 million TEU but the figure would be up 15 percent from last year. July is forecast at 1.23 million TEU, up 11 percent from last year; August at 1.27 million TEU, up 10 percent; September at 1.31 million TEU, up 15 percent; and October – traditionally the busiest month of the year – at 1.34 million TEU, up 12 percent. The strong year-over-year increases are partly due to easy comparisons against unusually low numbers last year.
The first half of 2010 is expected to total 6.6 million TEU, up 12 percent from the same period last year. Imports for 2009 totaled 12.7 million TEU, down 17 percent from 2008’s 15.2 million TEU and the lowest since the 12.5 million TEU reported in 2003.
“Virtually all of the ocean carriers now seem to accept that there will not be a relapse into a second-dip recession nor an end to the growth,” Hackett Associates founder Ben Hackett said, noting that many shipping companies have recently restored services and capacity that had been cut back. “Not a day goes by without a new announcement of additional services or re-instatement of services that had been withdrawn.”
Global Port Tracker, which is produced for NRF by the consulting firm Hackett Associates, 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. The report is free to NRF retail members, and subscription information is available at www.nrf.com/PortTracker or by calling (202) 783-7971. Subscription information for non-members can be found at www.globalportracker.com.
As the world's largest retail trade association and the voice of retail worldwide, NRF's global membership includes retailers of all sizes, formats and channels of distribution as well as chain restaurants and industry partners from the United States and more than 45 countries abroad. In the United States, NRF represents the breadth and diversity of an industry with more than 1.6 million American companies that employ nearly 25 million workers and generated 2009 sales of $2.3 trillion. www.nrf.com
Hackett Associates provides expert consulting, research and advisory services to the international maritime industry, government agencies and international institutions.