Retailers continue to plan for increased imports this fall despite discouraging news recently regarding consumer confidence, employment numbers and retail sales.
“Whether consumers are going to have the confidence to spend during the next few months depends on what happens with employment, but retailers are being cautiously optimistic,” Jonathan Gold, vice president for supply chain and customs policy at the National Retail Federation, stated in the July Global Port Tracker.
The Global Port Tracker, which is published monthly by the NRF and Hackett Associates, estimates that U.S. containerized imports in June were 4.7 percent higher than in June 2011.
The publication projects that imports in July will be up 1.6 percent, August imports will increase 6.2 percent, September imports will be up 6.8 percent, October imports will increase 12.6 percent and November imports will be up 2 percent over the same months last year.
“Economists and commentators are talking the economy down,” said Ben Hackett, founder of Hackett Associates. “Despite the mixed signals, we remain optimistic that consumers will remain in the market,” he said.
Imports normally build each year during the summer and fall months as retailers bring back-to-school merchandise and then holiday goods into the country. Retailers this year are projecting a traditional peak-shipping season, which means imports during the August through October period should be noticeably higher than imports in the first half of the year.
Global Port Tracker reported that imports in the first half of 2012 were up 2.6 percent over the same period last year. However, retail sales are expected to pick up, and Global Port Tracker is calling for retail sales to increase 3.4 percent in 2012 over last year.
The projection of a 12.6 percent increase in imports in October stands out because it is being compared to lower-than-usual imports in October 2011, Global Port Tracker stated.