Global trade data dips from July to August, reports Panjiva

Following a very strong performance from June to July, global trade activity from July to August took a step backwards, according to data released by Panjiva, an online search engine with detailed information on global suppliers and manufacturers.

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Following a very strong performance from June to July, global trade activity from July to August took a step backwards, according to data released by Panjiva, an online search engine with detailed information on global suppliers and manufacturers.

U.S.-bound waterborne shipments, which were up 9 percent from June to July, fell 3 percent from July to August at 1,144,596, according to Panjiva. On an annual basis, August shipments were up 2 percent. The -3 percent sequential dip fell short of previous years for the same period, with 2011 and 2010 each up 4 percent, 2009 up 3 percent, and 2008 up 0.1 percent.

Panjva reported a 1 percent decrease in the number of global manufacturers shipping to the U.S., with August coming in at 156,462, which lags the 5 percent uptick from June to July. The number of manufacturers shipping to the U.S. was up 2 percent year-over-year. The 1 percent sequential decrease is down compared to 2011’s 2 percent gain and 2010’s and 2009’s matching 1 percent gains, with 2008 down 1 percent.

Panjiva CEO Josh Green said there are two possibilities factoring into the July to August decline. One is softness in global trade, and the second is a shift in terms of seasonal buying patterns.

“The answer is probably a mix of both,” said Green. “There is a fair amount of speculation regarding global trade softening, which is off-set by those who maintain the economy is heading in the right direction. We have mixed messages in terms of where the macro economy is headed, which is nothing new. It is possible we are seeing softness in global trade in response to global macro economic conditions.”

And with shipments up 2 percent, following a 9 percent gain, Green said that suggests a “pulling forward” of the seasonal peak, which has seen peak activity in August over the last five years and this year it appears to be occurring in July instead.”

Should September data come in at a strong level, Green explained that will serve as evidence that there is in fact a seasonality shift in play. But if September is weak annually he said that points to a softening in global trade.

With July to August posting lackluster results, Green said it does not bode well for trade, considering that at a minimum it suggests that retailers have pushed back their buying into the holiday season in hopes that they would have more certainty about what the holiday buying environment would look like.

“It is seemingly a contradiction, but one of the reasons why the peak could move from August to July is if retailer buying habits, or holiday buying habits, are pushed back,” he said. “In the previous scenario where August used to be when back to school and holiday shopping hit at the same time and now they are getting pushed to later in the year, which may be the dynamic we are seeing.”

About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

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