Panjiva reports a 10 percent decline in global trade from September to October

U.S.-bound waterborne shipments, which were up 9 percent and down 3 percent and 4 percent, respectively, in the previous three recorded months declined 10 percent from September to October, coming in at 988,255.

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Global trade activity saw a steep dip from September to October, 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 and down 3 percent and 4 percent, respectively, in the previous three recorded months declined 10 percent from September to October, coming in at 988,255, said Panjiva. This was 3.1 percent below shipment levels from the same period last year, which reached 1,027,973.

The 10 percent decline topped previous September to October trends, including 2011’s and 2010’s matching -2 percent declines, and a 3 percent gain in 2009 and a 1 percent gain in 2008.

“While it is hard to know for sure, it is likely that Hurricane Sandy had an impact on these numbers,” said Panjiva CEO Josh Green. “It seems like buyers opted to keep inventories relatively lean for the holiday season, and I don’t think anyone has any visibility as to what the post-holiday environment will look like.”

The decision to keep inventories lean, said Green, represents a bet on a modest holiday season, coupled with a desire to not be left with inventory after the holiday season, when there is very little visibility as to how consumers are going to be feeling.

While the holiday season is a key driver in regards to trade patterns and how people approach it as orders were placed, there was—and remains—a lot of uncertainty about: the trajectory of the economy; how the Presidential election would turn out; where consumer sentiment would be heading; and how the fiscal cliff might be resolved.

“This uncertainty has led to fairly cautious buying patterns by companies,” explained Green.

Before the September to October period, Green said Panjiva was expecting trade volumes to be between flat to down 5 percent, explaining that the 10 percent dip was definitely more than expected based on seasonal patterns.

Keeping a close eye on inventory due to economic uncertainty has led to the die being cast in terms of how much inventory retailers will have on hand for the holiday season, noted Green.

“The attention now turns to what consumers do,” he said. “Do they buy as cautiously as retailers have or do they surprise us on the upside with aggressive holiday spending? And the political piece is going to be very important as well. If there is modest holiday spending and continued challenges on the fiscal cliff front, you will see continuing caution on the part of buyers. If we see a holiday surprise from consumers and from Washington in the form of a deal on the fiscal cliff, then I think it will bode well for trade flows and for the transportation and logistics sectors.”


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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