Growth in U.S. containerized imports slowed to 4 percent in the second quarter after rising 9 percent in the first three months of 2011, according to Journal of Commerce sister company PIERS.
During the first half of the year, containerized imports rose 6.3 percent to 8.36 million 20-foot-equivalent units.
By the Numbers: Container Rate Benchmark
“The final reading of second quarter imports confirmed the slowing growth momentum in inventory stocking against the backdrop of lackluster household spending,” said JOC Economist Mario O. Moreno.
For the full year, Moreno’s most recent forecast calls for containerized imports to rise 4.7 percent and exports to increase 10 percent.
Moreno said imports were slowed in the second quarter by the dismal housing market and high unemployment, which weakened consumer confidence and led retailers and wholesalers “to be highly cautious and adjust inventory levels to better contend with softer demand.”
Consumer caution is reflected in reduced imports of sheets, towels and blankets, down 17 percent during the year’s first half; toys, down 4 percent; beer, down 3 percent, and furniture, down 1 percent.
Auto parts posted a 28 percent increase in the first half of 2011. Tire imports increased 22 percent. Moreno said auto parts and tires were up sharply early in the year and rose after Japan’s March 11 earthquake and tsunami as companies accelerated orders to avoid supply chain disruptions.
China accounted for nearly 3.9 million TEUs, or 46.5 percent of all containerized imports arriving at U.S. ports during the first half of 2011. South Korea was a distant second with 336,706 TEUs, or 4 percent of the total. Japan, Taiwan and Germany rounded out the top five.
Containerized imports from China rose 5 percent this year through June. South Korea’s shipments were up 9 percent, boosted by auto parts. Containerized imports from Germany were up 18 percent, largely due to increased shipments of auto parts.
--Contact Joseph Bonney at email@example.com.