NRF: Retail container traffic to increase slightly in December

Retail Editor 1, December 16, 2011

Washington D.C. - Import cargo volume at the nation's major retail container ports should be up slightly in December - 0.3% - compared with the same month last year, as retailers head to the finish line of the holiday shopping season. according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released this week by National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.

While the volume increase isn't large "it comes after several months where retailers had reduced their imports from last year, so it's a positive sign by comparison," said Jonathan Gold, NRF vice president for supply chain and customs policy. "Retailers are placing a cautious bet that consumer demand is increasing."

Global Port Tracker, which is produced for NRF by the consulting firm Hackett Associates, covers the U.S. ports of 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 1.28 million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) in October, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was down 3.5% from the peak for the year hit in September, and down 5% from October 2010.

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

"We expect to see a mini-resurgence in December," noted Ben Hackett, founder of Hackett Associates. "With consumer spending on the rise, it would seem that the pace of retail sales will continue through to the New Year's sales at least."


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