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Retail imports expected to rise for spring

Washington – Import volume at major retail container ports is expected to increase 12.4% in March as retailers begin to stock up for spring and summer, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released today by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.

“Retailers are bouncing back from the annual post-holiday slowdown and getting ready for the surge in activity that comes each year as the weather warms up,” said Jonathan Gold, vp for supply chain and customs policy.

“Congestion has been a problem for many ports during this slowdown, so operations will need to improve to handle the expected surge in the coming months,” Gold said. Cargo movement at some ports has been slowed by a number of issues recently, including severe winter weather and shortages of labor and equipment.

The total for 2013 was 16.2 million TEU, up 2.3% from 2012’s 15.8 million TEU.

February, historically the slowest month of the year, was estimated at 1.17 million TEU, down 8.8% from the same month last year. March is forecast at 1.28 million TEU, up 12.4% from last year; April at 1.36 million TEU, up 5.1%; May at 1.44 million TEU, up 3.7%; June at 1.43 million TEU, up 5.3%, and July at 1.49 million TEU, up 3.4%. The first half of the year is expected to total 8 million TEU, up 3.5% over last year.

The import numbers come as NRF is forecasting 4.1% sales growth in 2014, contingent on how Washington policies on economic issues affect consumer confidence.

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