Source: Lloyd’s List
December 14th 2016
Major US container ports are expected to see a 3.2% rise in retail import box volumes in December to 1.48m teu compared with the year-ago month, as retailers bring in their final batch of merchandise shipments to meet demand for the year-end holiday season.
The Global Port Tracker report released by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates forecast that major US ports covered in its survey handled about 1.53m teu in November, a 3.6% increase versus the 2015 month.
In October, the most recent month with finalised figures, the ports handled 1.67m teu, a 7.4% increase from the previous year and a 4.6% rise from September.
“There is still shopping to be done, and retailers are making sure the gifts that need to be under a tree are waiting on the shelves,” said NRF vice-president for supply chain and customs policy Jonathan Gold.“Imports are up a healthy amount over this time last year, and that’s a good sign for holiday sales and the economy.”
Although box volumes are not directly correlated to holiday sales due to only the number of containers being counted and not the value of cargo inside them, sales figures function as an indicator of retailers’ expectations.
The NRF is expecting sales over the holiday period in November to December to hit $655.8bn, a 3.6% rise from the year-ago period.
For 2016 as a whole, Global Port Tracker forecasts box imports to rise 2% to 18.6m teu. The first half of 2016 saw container import volumes rise 1.6% to 9m teu.
The report also expects January 2017 imports to rise 3.2% to 1.54m teu, February box imports to fall 3.5% to 1.49m teu, March container imports to rise 4.4% to 1.38m teu, and April cargo imports volumes to increase 6.4% to 1.54m teu.With cargo imports for 2016 growing only 2%, the trend of imports exceeding gross domestic product growth is likely to be over, said Hackett Associates founder Ben Hackett. “This is a new phenomenon. It was not long ago when industry leaders were doing their forecasts based on trade growth outpacing GDP by a ratio of more than two-to-one. Those days are gone,” he said. Global Port Tracker covers the US ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle and Tacoma on the west coast; New York/New Jersey, Hampton Roads, Charleston, Savannah, Port Everglades and Miami on the east coast; and Houston on the US Gulf Coast.