Port Tracker report has positive themes heading into 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.

By ·

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, 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

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!

Article Topics

Ocean Shipping · Port Tracker · Retail · All Topics
Latest Whitepaper
The View from the New “Single Window”
The single window, officially known as the "International Trade Data System," operates via the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency's Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) platform, and serves as a single point of contact for all trade filings.
Download Today!
From the March 2017 Issue
WMS vendors are stepping up to the plate and developing functionalities and solutions that meet the complex needs of today’s companies. Our top analysts take a peek into these developments and discuss the DC of the future and the software that will support it.
5 Supply Chain Trends Happening Now
2017 Warehouse/DC Equipment Survey: Investment up as service pressures rise
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
2017 Trucking Regulations & Infrastructure Update
In this session our panel brings shippers up to date on the state of transportation regulations. Discussion will revolve around regulatory reform, aspects of the federal highway bill and what the transportation landscape looks like in the early days of the Trump administration.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
LM Exclusive: Major Modes Join E-commerce Mix
While last mile carriers receive much of the attention, the traditional modal heavyweights are in...
ASEAN Logistics: Building Collectively
While most of the world withdraws inward, Southeast Asia is practicing effective cooperation between...

2017 Rate Outlook: Will the pieces fall into place?
Trade and transport analysts see a turnaround in last year’s negative market outlook, but as...
Logistics Management’s Top Logistics News Stories 2016
From mergers and acquisitions to regulation changes, Logistics Management has compiled the most...