NRF/Hackett Associates report: Imports break records two months in a row as retailers brought in merchandise for the holiday season

WASHINGTON, 2017-Oct-12 — /EPR Retail News/ — Imports set a second all-time monthly record high this summer as retailers brought in merchandise for the busy holiday season, and are continuing at unusually high levels this month, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released today by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.

“When imports break records two months in a row, it’s hard to see that as anything other than a good sign about what retailers expect in consumer demand,” NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. “Consumers are buying more, and everybody from dockworkers to truck drivers is trying to keep up. We hope this is a sign of a strong holiday season for retailers, shoppers and our nation’s economy.”

Ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.8 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units in August, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. The volume was the highest recorded since NRF began tracking imports in 2000, topping the previous record of 1.78 million TEU set just one month earlier in July. The record before that had been 1.73 million TEU in March 2015. August was up 1.4 percent over July and 5.6 percent over August 2016. A TEU is one 20-foot-long cargo container or its equivalent.

September was estimated at 1.65 million TEU, up 3.7 percent from last year, and October is forecast at 1.72 million TEU, up 2.8 percent. While not a record, the October number would be one of only six times in the report’s history that any month has hit 1.7 million TEU or higher. November is forecast at 1.62 million TEU, down 1.7 percent from last year, and December is forecast at 1.59 million TEU, up 1.3 percent.

Growth has slowed from the first half of the year but 2017 is expected to total 19.8 million TEU, topping last year’s previous record of 18.8 million TEU by 5.4 percent. That compares with 2016’s 3.1 percent increase over 2015. The first half of 2017 totaled 9.7 million TEU, up 7.5 percent from the same period in 2016.

January 2018 is forecast at 1.64 million TEU, down 2 percent from January 2017, and February is forecast at 1.58 million TEU, up 10 percent from the same month in 2017.

The import numbers come as NRF is forecasting that 2017 retail sales  will grow between 3.2 and 3.8 percent over 2016 and that this year’s holiday sales will grow between 3.6 and 4 percent. Cargo volume does not correlate directly with sales because only the number of containers is counted, not the value of the cargo inside, but nonetheless provides a barometer of retailers’ expectations.

“The volume of containers imported through August continues to grow and we expect this to continue through October before a slack period arrives as the holiday season inventory buildup comes to an end,” Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett said. “We do expect growth in imports to slacken off in the coming year, but it will still remain positive.”

Global Port Tracker, which is produced for NRF by the consulting firm Hackett Associates, covers the U.S. 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 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.globalporttracker.com.

NRF is the world’s largest retail trade association, representing discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and Internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries. Retail is the nation’s largest private-sector employer, supporting one in four U.S. jobs – 42 million working Americans. Contributing $2.6 trillion to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation’s economy. NRF.com

Hackett Associates provides expert consulting, research and advisory services to the international maritime industry, government agencies and international institutions. www.hackettassociates.com

SOURCE: NRF

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J. Craig Shearman
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NRF and Hackett Associates report: Imports at major retail container ports saw an unexpected increase during the holiday season

WASHINGTON, 2017-Jan-11 — /EPR Retail News/ — Imports at the nation’s major retail container ports saw an unexpected increase during the industry’s busy holiday season, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released today (January 9, 2017) by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.

“We won’t see final sales numbers for a few more days, but import volume suggests that retailers had a strong holiday season,” NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. “Retailers don’t import merchandise unless they think they can sell it.”

Ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.64 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units in November, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was down 1.6 percent from October since most imported holiday merchandise had already arrived but up 11.2 percent from November 2015. Global Port Tracker had previously predicted a year-over-year increase of 3.6 percent. One TEU is one 20-foot-long cargo container or its equivalent.

December was estimated at 1.54 million TEU, up 7 percent year-over-year rather than the 3.2 percent that had been expected.

Cargo volume does not correlate directly to sales because only the number of containers is counted, not the value of the cargo inside, but nonetheless provides a barometer of retailers’ expectations. NRF’s annual forecast called for $655.8 billion in 2016 holiday sales during November and December, a 3.6 percent increase over 2015. November sales were up 5 percent year-over-year, and the Commerce Department is scheduled to release December numbers on Friday.

Cargo volume for 2016 is now estimated at 18.8 million TEU, up 2.9 percent from 2015 rather than the 2 percent previously expected. Total volume for 2015 was 18.2 million TEU, up 5.4 percent from 2014.

January is forecast at 1.57 million TEU, up 5.7 percent from January 2016; February at 1.52 million TEU, down 1.5 percent from last year; March at 1.41 million TEU, up 6.5 percent from last year; April at 1.55 million TEU, up 7.3 percent, and May at 1.61 million TEU, down 0.5 percent.

“Economic data is fickle by nature – it surges and falls and often surprises us,” Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett said, referring to sometimes-contradictory economic numbers seen over the past year. “There is both optimism and pessimism and pointers showing growth as well as decline.

Global Port Tracker, which is produced for NRF by the consulting firm Hackett Associates, covers the U.S. 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 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.globalporttracker.com.

NRF is the world’s largest retail trade association, representing discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and Internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries. Retail is the nation’s largest private sector employer, supporting one in four U.S. jobs – 42 million working Americans. Contributing $2.6 trillion to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation’s economy. NRF.com

Hackett Associates provides expert consulting, research and advisory services to the international maritime industry, government agencies and international institutions. www.hackettassociates.com

Contact:
J. Craig Shearman
(202) 626-8134
press@nrf.com
(855) NRF-Press

Source: NRF

NRF and Hackett Associates: Import cargo volume expected to increase 3.3 % this month as retailers make final preparations for the holiday season

WASHINGTON, 2015-10-12 — /EPR Retail News/ — Import cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports is expected to increase 3.3 percent this month over the same time last year as retailers make final preparations for the holiday season, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released today by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.

“The holidays are almost here, and retailers are ready,” NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. “Merchants have been stocking up since summer, and there should be plenty on the shelves as consumers begin their holiday shopping.”

The cargo report comes a day after NRF forecast 3.7 percent growth in holiday sales this year over 2014. While imports provide a barometer of retailers’ expectations, cargo volume does not directly correlate with sales figures because each container counts the same regardless of the value of its content.

Ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.68 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units in August, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was up 3.9 percent from July and 10.4 percent from a year ago. One TEU is one 20-foot-long cargo container or its equivalent.

September was estimated at 1.62 million TEU, up 2.1 percent from 2014. October is forecast at 1.61 million TEU, up 3.3 percent from last year; November at 1.49 million TEU, up 7.2 percent, and December at 1.42 million TEU, down 0.9 percent.

Those numbers would bring 2015 to a total of 18.3 million TEU, up 5.7 percent from last year. The first half of 2015 totaled 8.9 million TEU, up 6.5 percent over the same period last year.

January 2016 is forecast at 1.44 million TEU, up 16.5 percent from weak numbers seen a year earlier just before West Coast dockworkers agreed on a new contract that ended a months-long labor dispute. February is forecast at 1.35 million TEU, up 12.9 percent, also skewed by the labor dispute.

Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett said West Coast ports have largely recovered their share of cargo following the labor dispute, with the West Coast accounting for 59 percent, the East Coast 37 percent and the Gulf Coast 4 percent. But the inventory-to-sales ratio remains “stubbornly high” because of the influx of cargo that came through after the dispute ended.

“We would have thought that by now the aftermath of the disruption at the West Coast ports had worked its way through, which would help to reduce inventory,” he said. “This is not the case.”

Global Port Tracker, which is produced for NRF by the consulting firm Hackett Associates, covers the U.S. 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 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.globalporttracker.com.

NRF is the world’s largest retail trade association, representing discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and Internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries. Retail is the nation’s largest private sector employer, supporting one in four U.S. jobs – 42 million working Americans. Contributing $2.6 trillion to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation’s economy. NRF’s This is Retail campaign highlights the industry’s opportunities for life-long careers, how retailers strengthen communities, and the critical role that retail plays in driving innovation. NRF.com

Hackett Associates provides expert consulting, research and advisory services to the international maritime industry, government agencies and international institutions.www.hackettassociates.com

J. Craig Shearman
(202) 626-8134
press@nrf.com
(855) NRF-Press

NRF & Hackett Associates Global Port Tracker: Import cargo volume at nation’s major retail container ports returns to normal levels

WASHINGTON, 2015-6-10 — /EPR Retail News/ — Import cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports has returned to normal levels following ratification of a new West Coast labor agreement, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released today by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.

“Despite some lingering labor issues, the volume of cargo and the rate of growth have both largely settled down,” NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. “There are still congestion issues to be dealt with but we’re hoping to see reasonably normal back-to-school and holiday seasons this year now that the tensions of contract negotiations are behind us.”

The Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union both voted in May to ratify a new five-year contract agreed to in February. The lack of a contract and operational issues led to crisis-level congestion at West Coast ports after the previous agreement expired last July.

Ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.52 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units in April, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was down 12.4 percent from March, when numbers were driven up by a surge of backlogged cargo after the labor dispute ended, but up 6.1 percent from April 2014. One TEU is one 20-foot-long cargo container or its equivalent.

May was estimated at 1.56 million TEU, up 5 percent from 2014. June is forecast at 1.52 million TEU, up 2.6 percent; July at 1.57 million TEU, up 4.9 percent; August also at 1.57 million TEU, up 3.3 percent; September at 1.6 million TEU, up 0.6 percent, and October at 1.59 million TEU, up 1.8 percent.

The first half of 2015 is forecast at 8.8 million TEU, an increase of 5.4 percent over the same period last year.

Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett said a “stubbornly high” inventory-to-sales ratio after last year’s rush to bring in adequate stocks of merchandise will couple with other economic factors to affect cargo volumes through the summer.

“The West Coast recovery remains sluggish and the East Coast is not managing to hold on to the growth levels it has experienced over the past few months,” Hackett said. “June is going to be a mixed month for the West Coast with volatility between the ports, but July and August are projected to see growth across the board. On the East Coast, we are projecting growth for most ports.”

Global Port Tracker, which is produced for NRF by the consulting firm Hackett Associates, covers the U.S. 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 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.globalporttracker.com.

NRF is the world’s largest retail trade association, representing discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and Internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries. Retail is the nation’s largest private sector employer, supporting one in four U.S. jobs – 42 million working Americans. Contributing $2.6 trillion to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation’s economy. NRF’s This is Retail campaign highlights the industry’s opportunities for life-long careers, how retailers strengthen communities, and the critical role that retail plays in driving innovation. NRF.com

Hackett Associates provides expert consulting, research and advisory services to the international maritime industry, government agencies and international institutions. www.hackettassociates.com

J. Craig Shearman
(202) 626-8134
press@nrf.com
(855) NRF-Press

NRF and Hackett Associates monthly Global Port Tracker report: Import cargo volume expected to rise 8% this month over the same time last year as West Coast ports recover

WASHINGTON, 2015-4-9 — /EPR Retail News/ — Import cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports is expected to rise 8 percent this month over the same time last year as West Coast ports continue to recover from a backlog of cargo that built up before a tentative new labor agreement was signed, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released today by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.

“Progress is being made but there’s still a lot of cargo waiting to be loaded onto trucks and trains and moved across the country even after it’s unloaded from the ships,” NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. “The situation is getting better but we’re still far from normal.”

The Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union tentatively agreed on a five-year contract in February. While ILWU leadership has recommended that members vote for ratification, votes won’t be counted until May 22. The lack of a contract and operational issues led to crisis-level congestion at the ports after the previous agreement expired last July, and issues were not resolved until a federal mediator and Labor Secretary Tom Perez joined the talks.

Ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.2 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units in February, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available and historically the slowest month of the year. That was down 10.3 percent from January and down 3.6 percent from February 2014. One TEU is one 20-foot-long cargo container or its equivalent.

March was estimated at 1.48 million TEU, up 13.5 percent from 2014. April is forecast at 1.55 million TEU, up 8 percent from last year; May at 1.57 million TEU, up 5.6 percent; June at 1.54 million TEU, up 4.3 percent; July at 1.58 million TEU, up 5.6 percent, and August at 1.61 million TEU, up 5.7 percent.

The first half of 2015 is forecast at 8.6 million TEU, an increase of 3 percent over the same period last year.

“The disruption on the West Coast appears to be over and great measures are being taken to clear the backlog of ships sitting offshore,” Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett said. “Of course, all those ships being discharged are causing landside issues as workers try to get containers out of the terminal gates and onto trucks and rail.”

Global Port Tracker, which is produced for NRF by the consulting firm Hackett Associates, covers the U.S. 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 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.globalporttracker.com.

NRF is the world’s largest retail trade association, representing discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and Internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries. Retail is the nation’s largest private sector employer, supporting one in four U.S. jobs – 42 million working Americans. Contributing $2.6 trillion to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation’s economy. NRF’s This is Retail campaign highlights the industry’s opportunities for life-long careers, how retailers strengthen communities, and the critical role that retail plays in driving innovation. NRF.com

Hackett Associates provides expert consulting, research and advisory services to the international maritime industry, government agencies and international institutions. www.hackettassociates.com

J. Craig Shearman
(202) 626-8134
press@nrf.com
(855) NRF-Press