Port Tracker report expects April imports to be up 3.2 percent

As the economy continues to show moderate signs of growth, the monthly Port Tracker report by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates expects import cargo volumes at U.S. ports to post a 3.2 percent annual gain in April.

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As the economy continues to show moderate signs of growth, the monthly Port Tracker report by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates expects import cargo volumes at U.S. ports to post a 3.2 percent annual gain in April.

The ports surveyed in the report include: Los Angeles/Long Beach, Oakland, Tacoma, Seattle, Houston, New York/New Jersey, Hampton Roads, Charleston, and Savannah.

Port Tracker indicated that the first half of 2012 is expected to total 7.3 million TEU (Twenty-foot Equivalent Units), which would represent a 2.2 percent annual gain. The 2011 total was 14.8 million TEU, which was up 0.4 percent over 14.75 million TEU in 2010. Volume in 2010 was up 16 percent compared to a dismal 2009. The 12.7 million TEU shipped in 2009 was the lowest annual tally since 2003.

“Retailers are continuing to watch rising gas prices, but job gains and other indicators show the economy is strengthening,” NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said in a statement.

“All of this should improve consumer confidence and lead to increased spending, so retailers are cautiously building up their inventories.”

In February, the most recent month for which data is available and typically the slowest month of the year, U.S. ports surveyed in the report handled 1.04 million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEU), which was down 16 percent from January’s 1.22 million TEU and 5.7 percent compared to February 2011.

Port Tracker is calling for March to hit 1.19 million TEU for a 9.6 percent annual gain, with April expected to hit 1.25 million TEU for a 3.2 percent annual hike. May is expected to be flat at 1.29 million TEU, matching expectations for January at 1.29 million TEU, which would be up 3.6 percent. July and August at 1.35 million TEU and 1.42 million TEU are expected to be up 1.9 percent and 7.4 percent, respectively.

In the report, Ben Hackett, president of Hackett Associates, said that the report’s forecast for the rest of 2012 is back to “traditional peak season patterns.”

On a recent Webcast hosted by Logistics Management, Hackett explained that even with relatively low growth levels and some economic uncertainty, “the overall economic fundamentals in the U.S. are strong, with steady retail sales growth, strong supply chain management, and a rebound in consumer confidence, couple with industrial production continuing to grow at a rate that has exceeded economists’ expectations.”

 


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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