Retail container traffic expected to rise again

But forecaster sees careful inventory planning for fall

Retail Editor 8, July 9, 2010

Washington - Although retail container traffic is expected to jump 16% this month, the Global Port Tracker report suggests it could be the last month of double-digit increases for a while.

 The report, released by National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates, estimated container traffic rose 22% in June after climbing 10% in May. December 2009's container traffic increase broke a 28-month succession of year-over-year declines.

"We are still seeing increases in imports, partly because last year's volumes made for easy comparisons and partly because of real improvements in the economy and consumer spending," NRF vp for supply chain and customs policy Jonathan Gold said.

However, he added, retailers are keeping a wary eye on employment, housing and credit numbers.

"There clearly can't be consistent growth in consumer spending when customers don't have jobs," he said. "That means retailers are going to have to manage their inventories more carefully as the year progresses."

He also noted that peak shipping season will exacerbate shortages in vessel capacity as well as port-specific congestion issues.

Container traffic for the first half of 2010 was estimated at 6.8 million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (a TEU is one 20-foot cargo container or its equivalent), up 15% from the first half of 2009. Total 2009 imports fell 17% from 2008.


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