NRF: September retail container traffic expected to grow 16%
HTT Staff -- Home Textiles Today, 9/8/2010 10:51:52 AM
Washington, D.C. - Even with 2010 already having hit its peak, import cargo volume at the country's major retail container ports is expected to rise by 16% this month over last September.
But numbers will decline through the remainder of the year, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released today by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.
"Retailers have stocked up early on much of their holiday merchandise in order to avoid some of the supply chain disruptions seen earlier in the year," said Jonathan Gold, vp for supply chain and customs policy, NRF. "Cargo is still coming in, but the key question for sales will be what happens with employment and other factors that affect consumer confidence this fall. Retailers are hoping they've hit the right balance of supply and demand."
Global Port Tracker, which is produced for NRF by the consulting firm Hackett Associates, covers the U.S. ports of: Long Angeles/Long Beach and Oakland, Calif.; Seattle and Tacoma, Wash., on the West Coast; New York/New Jersey, Hampton Roads, Charleston and Savannah on the East Coast, and Houston on the Gulf Coast.
In July, which is the most recent month for which relevant numbers are available, U.S. ports handled 1.38 million 20-foot-equivalent units (One TEU is one 20-foot cargo container or its equivalent). That figure was up 5% from June and 25% higher than July 2009. Also noteworthy is that July 2010 marked the eighth consecutive month to show a year-over-year improvement after December broke a 28-month streak of year-over-year declines.
August was estimated at 1.35 million TEU, a 17% increase over last year. Other estimates call for: September at 1.32 million TEU, up 16% from last year; October at 1.3 million TEU, up 9%; November at 1.2 million TEU, up 11%; and December at 1.11 million TEU, up 2%. January 2011 is forecast at 1.06 million TEU, down 2% from January 2010.
The first half of 2010 was estimated at 6.9 million TEU, up 17% from the same period last year. The full year is forecast to be at 14.5 million TEU, which would represent a 15% increase from the 12.7 million TEU in 2009 -- the lowest since the 12.5 million TEU reported in 2003. The 2010 number remains below the 15.2 million TEU seen in 2008 and the peak of 16.5 million TEU seen in 2007.
"While October is the traditional peak month of the annual shipping season as retailers bring in merchandise for the holiday season, July's figures appear likely to stand as the peak for 2010," the NRF said. "The shift was mostly due to backlogs built up due to the lack of shipping capacity earlier in the year after ship owners took vessels out of service during the recession."
Added Ben Hackett, founder of Hackett Associates: "There is sufficient evidence to suggest that importers anticipated the peak season and bought early, partly as a result of a fear of lack of capacity and containers but also as a means to avoid the hefty peak season surcharges announced by all the carriers. We remain cautious about growth over the next 12 months. The good news is that the influx of new capacity will continue to put downward pressure on freight rates."
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