Subscribe to our free, weekly email newsletter!

Port Tracker report points to strong finish of the year

By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
September 09, 2013

Even in a relatively tepid economic environment, there are indications holiday–related import activity is gaining traction, according to the most recent edition of the Port Tracker report from the National Retail Federation (NRF) and maritime consultancy Hackett Associates.

The report is calling for September volumes at United States-based retail container ports to increase 5.1 percent annually in September, with retailers preparing for the holiday season. Last month, it noted import gains are expected through the holiday season. 

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.

“Retailers are making up for the slow imports seen earlier in the year,” NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said in a statement. “It’s too early to predict holiday sales, but merchants are clearly stocking up.”

The Port Tracker report said 1.43 million TEU (Twenty-foot Equivalent Units) were handled in July (the most recent month for which full data is available) for the ports followed by Port Tracker, which represents a 5.4 percent increase compared to June and a 1.1 percent gain compared to July 2012.

The report said the 2013 forecast remains at 16.2 million for a 2.5 percent gain over 2012’s 15.8 million TEU, with the first six months of the year at 7.8 million TEU for a 1.2 percent increase.

The Port Tracker report estimates August volumes to be at 1.48 million TEU for a 4.1 percent annual decrease, and it is calling for September to be up 5.1 percent at 1.48 million TEU.  October, which is traditionally the busiest month of the year, is pegged 1.46 million TEU for a 9 percent gain. November and December are expected to be at 1.31 million TEU and 1.3 million TEU for 2.2 percent and 0.7 percent increases, respectively.

Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett said in the report that the U.S. economy is on the road to sustained growth, with second quarter GDP of 2.5 percent beating expectations, coupled with an improving unemployment outlook, with consumer spending expected to increase in the fourth quarter.

“A good amount of that growth is likely to come from back-to-school and the holiday season, but we are keeping our eye on housing starts as well, which we expect to continue to pick up as the year goes on,” said Hackett in a recent interview.

What’s more, he observed that the inventory-to-sales ratio is relatively high although it has not shown any indicators that it is rising, which could lead to a decent Peak Season this year with increased shipment activity.

With that as a backdrop, Hackett said 2014 imports could be up by 5 percent compared to 2013 and could serve as a boon to terminal operators and carriers, although the capacity outlook remains muddled as carriers continue to grow at a higher rate, which is, in turn, leading to carriers establishing partnership alliances to reduce scale.

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 · TEU · 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