Global Port Tracker report: Import cargo volume at major retail container ports expected to be unchanged from last year this month

WASHINGTON, 2015-12-10 — /EPR Retail News/ — Import cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports is expected to be essentially unchanged from last year this month as stores bring in the last round of merchandise for the holiday season, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released today by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.

“The holiday season is well under way and merchants are doing the final balancing act of matching supply to demand,” NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. “Retailers went into the season with strong inventories that ensured consumers would have a good depth and breadth of selection, and that should hold true for the remainder of the season.”

The cargo report comes as NRF is forecasting a 3.7 percent increase in holiday sales this year over 2014. Cargo volume does not directly correlate with sales figures because each container counts the same regardless of the value of its content, but nonetheless provides a barometer of retailers’ expectations.

Ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.56 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units in October, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was down 4.1 percent from September and down 0.1 percent from a year ago. One TEU is one 20-foot-long cargo container or its equivalent.

November was estimated at 1.5 million TEU, up 7.4 percent from 2014, and December is forecast at 1.44 million TEU, down 0.1 percent from last year.

Those numbers would bring 2015 to a total of 18.3 million TEU, up 5.5 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 1.46 million TEU, up 17.9 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 2016 is forecast at 1.4 million TEU, up 16.9 percent, also skewed by the labor dispute. March is forecast at 1.35 million TEU, down 22.4 percent from a year ago because of large volumes seen after the contract agreement. Patterns are expected to return to normal in April, which is forecast at 1.51 million TEU, down 0.3 percent from last year.

Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett said retailers are still working off excess inventory built up after the West Coast port situation and sustained by warm weather that has diminished the demand for winter clothing, but that consumers are buying.

“U.S. retail sales increased in October by the most in three months and consumer sentiment rose as well, but the inventory-to-sales ratio remained stubbornly high at levels not seen since the Great Recession in 2009,” Hackett said. “Personal savings increased, but on the flip side so did the use of credit cards.”

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

SOURCE: National Retail Federation

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