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

Last week, the United States Department of Transportation took further steps to address various issues identified in recent train accidents involving crude oil and ethanol shipped by rail. The announcement was made by DOT with other DOT agencies, including the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).

Logistics Management Group News Editor Jeff Berman had an opportunity to interview Derek Leathers, President and Chief Operating Officer of Werner Enterprises, at this month's NASSTRAC Shippers Conference and Transportation Expo in Orlando. They discussed various aspects of the truckload market, including prices, fuel, and regulations.

During this webcast our presenters will apply the findings of the 23rd Annual Trends & Issues in Transportation and Logistics Study to the world of shipper-carrier decision making. They'll examine the primary aspects that will influence the future direction for shipper-carrier decision-making.

For February, the month for which most recent data is available, the SCI dropped to -1.0 from January’s 2.6, with FTR explaining that the short term positive impact from one-time adjustments for rapidly dropping diesel prices and the suspension of the 2013 motor carriers hours-of-service expires later this year.

Seasonally-adjusted (SA) for-hire truck tonnage in March was up 1.1 percent on the heels of a revised 2.8 percent (from 3.1 percent) February decline, with the SA index at 133.5 (2000=100). This is off 0.3 percent from the all-time high for the SA of 135.8 from January 2015 and is up 5 percent annually.

Article Topics

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

Comments

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