Subscribe to our free, weekly email newsletter!

Port Tracker report has positive themes heading into 2014

By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
January 13, 2014

Optimism appears to be the operative term in describing growth prospects at U.S.-based retail container ports in 2014, according to the most recent edition of the Port Tracker report from the National Retail Federation (NRF) and maritime consultancy Hackett Associates.

The ports surveyed in the report include: Los Angeles/Long Beach, Oakland, Tacoma, Seattle, Houston, New York/New Jersey, Hampton Roads, Charleston, and Savannah, Miami, and Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Port Everglades. Authors of the report explained that Cargo import numbers do not correlate directly with retail sales or employment because they count only the number of cargo containers brought into the country, not the value of the merchandise inside them, adding that the amount of merchandise imported provides a rough barometer of retailers’ expectations.

For November, the most recent month in which data is available, Port Tracker said that the surveyed ports handled 1.37 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEU), which dipped 4.3 percent from October, which is viewed as the busiest month of the year for imports, and was up 6.5 percent annually.

And the report is pegging December at 1.35 million TEU, which would represent a 5 percent gain over December 2012. Should this number hold, the report indicated 2013 will be 2.8 percent higher than 2013’s 16.3 million TEU and a 5.8 percent gain over 15.8 million in 2012, which marked a 3.4 percent increase over 2011.

“Retailers are still assessing the holiday season, but they’re also looking ahead to see what will happen in the new year,” Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said in a statement. “Based on these early numbers, 2014 looks like it should be off to a good start.”

Last year, the NRF called for 2013 holiday sales would head up 3.9 percent to $602.1 billion, with imports from August through September, which represent the months when the majority of holiday-related merchandise is imported into the U.S., at 4.35 million TEU for a 4.3 percent annual gain.

Port Tracker expects January to be up 4.8 percent annually at 1.37 million TEU, with February down 7.5 percent at 1.18 million TEU, and March up 15.9 percent at 1.32 million TEU. April and May are currently estimated at 1.4 million TEU and 1.46 million TEU for 7.7 percent and 4.6 percent increases, respectively.

Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett observed in the report that 2014 looks to stands as an improvement over 2013, due to better-than- expected GDP figures, lower unemployment rates and continued low inflation, coupled with expectations of a stronger dollar that will also help to increase consumer confidence as import prices continue to fall. But he cautioned that the inventory-to-sales ratio is still high at a time when it should be declining seasonally, which could mean that current GDP growth is stemming from the services sector, while albeit not a negative but it could translate into retail sales not being the growth engine for import volumes.

But even if that is the case Hackett said that expectations of a stronger dollar could help top bolster consumer confidence with import prices falling.

“We are seeing a trend from 2011 into 2014 if each peak getting higher and the troughs are getting less than we have had in the past, which serves as a confirmation that the recovery is ongoing,” Hackett said.

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).

Subscribe to Logistics Management magazine

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Get timely insider information that you can use to better manage your
entire logistics operation.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Recent Entries

Seasonally-adjusted (SA) for-hire truck tonnage in October at 135.7 (2000=100) was up 1.9 percent compared to September’s 133.1, and the ATA’s not seasonally-adjusted (NSA) index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by fleets before any seasonal adjustment was 139.8 in October, which was 0.9 percent ahead of September.

The average price per gallon of diesel gasoline fell 3.7 cents to $2.445 per gallon, according to data issued today by the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA). This marks the lowest weekly price for diesel since June 1, 2009, when it was at $2.352 per gallon.

In its report, entitled “Grey is the new Black,” JLL takes a close look at supply chain-related trends that can influence retailers’ approaches to Black Friday.

This year, it's all about the digital supply network. In this virtual conference, we will define the challenges currently facing supply chain organizations and offer solutions designed to transform linear operations into dynamic, automated networks that offer seamless communication, visibility, and the ability to respond and optimize processes at any given time.

In his opening comments assessing the economy at last week’s RailTrends conference hosted by Progressive Railroading magazine and independent railroad analyst Tony Hatch, FTR Senior analyst Larry Gross said the economy continues to slog ahead at a relatively tepid pace, coupled with some volatility in terms of overall GDP growth. And amid that slogging, Gross said there is currently an economic hand-off occurring between the industrial sector and the consumer sector.

Article Topics

News · Port Tracker · Retail · Ocean Shipping · All topics


Post a comment
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.

© Copyright 2015 Peerless Media LLC, a division of EH Publishing, Inc • 111 Speen Street, Ste 200, Framingham, MA 01701 USA