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Panjiva data is bullish when it comes to prospects for holiday shopping season

By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
November 25, 2013

If October is truly the month that sets the tone for the holiday shopping season, then data from Panjiva, an online search engine with detailed information on global suppliers and manufacturers, might portend a positive season’s greetings in terms of global trade growth and consumer spending, too.

Panjiva reported that U.S.-bound waterborne shipments in October—at 1,178,389—were up 2 percent compared to September and up 19 percent annually. Panjiva officials said this represents the highest level of October shipments since the company began tracking this data in 2007, adding that it could be viewed as a sign that retailers are prepping for a hectic holiday season.

Panjiva recently pointed out that U.S.-bound shipments in recent months have been on a strong run, and October was clearly not exception in setting the table for what it called last month a robust holiday shopping season.

The number of global manufacturers shipping to the U.S in October—at 172,534—was up 1 percent in October compared to September and was up 10 percent annually.

Panjiva CEO Josh Green said in an interview that October’s performance looks very strong.

“It is encouraging as we head into the holiday season to see numbers that look like these,” said Green. “It certainly looks like retailers are betting that consumers will be in a spending mood this holiday season.”

This data follows decent retail sales numbers for October released last week by the National Retail Federation and the Department of Commerce and a GDP number from Commerce that was better than expected.

Green went so far as to say things on the economic front are better than Panjiva expected.

“Typically, we see declines from September to October due to seasonal variations, whereas there is an increase this year, which is promising,” he noted.

When asked what the drivers were for a 19 percent annual gain in U.S.-bound shipments, Green said some holiday buying by corporate buyers may have been pushed back to give retailers some more time to figure out just how much inventory they should have.

October’s strong numbers point to the possibility of a second peak month, with July being the first, he said, and speaks to a shift in when orders are being placed, too.

“It is too soon to call that the new normal, but there are signs that it could be happening,” he said.

With holiday shopping imminent, Green said it will be very interesting to see how consumers behave relative to what retailers are betting on. If consumers are active, he said it will reward the retailers who placed these bets—or orders—and they will have increased confidence heading into 2014. But if consumers don’t come out and shop as expected, it will leave retailers with an unwelcome inventory overhang, according to Green.

“These numbers reflect orders that were placed months ago, and on some level there was another scenario that could have played out, which was a prolonged government shutdown and a government-induced recession,” he said. “If you envision that scenario playing out with numbers like these, it could have been the perfect storm with retailers being left with huge amounts of inventory. But it now looks like retailers got that bet right and we now have to wait and see how consumers react over the next few weeks.”

About the Author

Jeff Berman headshot
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. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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