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NRF: Retail container traffic to be up in April by 3.2%

Retail Editor 1 -- Home Textiles Today, April 10, 2012

Washington D.C. - The latest monthly Global Port Tracker report, released today by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates, projects import cargo volume at the nation's major retail container ports to increase 3.2% in April compared last year. Year-over-year gains should continue through the end of summer, according to the report.

"Retailers are continuing to watch rising gas prices, but job gains and other indicators show the economy is strengthening," said Jonathan Gold, NRF vp for supply chain and customs policy. "All of this should improve consumer confidence and lead to increased spending, so retailers are cautiously building up their inventories."

U.S. ports followed by Global Port Tracker include 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.

These ports handled 1.04 million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEU) in February, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. With February traditionally the slowest month of the year, that was down 16% from January and 5.7% from February 2011.

One TEU is one 20-foot cargo container or its equivalent.

March was estimated at 1.19 million TEU, up 9.6% from a year ago, and April is forecast at 1.25 million TEU, up 3.2% from last year. May is forecast at 1.29 million TEU, the same as last year; June at 1.29 million TEU, up 3.6%; July at 1.35 million TEU, up 1.9%, and August at 1.42 million TEU, up 7.4%.

The first half of 2012 should total 7.3 million TEU, up 2.2% from the same period last year. The total for 2011 was 14.8 million TEU, up 0.4% from 2010's 14.75 million TEU. NRF continues to project 2012 retail sales will grow 3.4% to $2.53 trillion.

"Our forecast for the remainder of the year has brought us back to the traditional peak season patterns," Hackett Associates founder Ben Hackett said. "Hopefully the importers and the carriers can work closely together to ensure sufficient capacity and a solid supply chain."


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