The National Retail Federation is revising upward its forecast for U.S. imports from Asia over the next several months, thanks to strong retail sales at the start of the holiday shopping season.
The Global Port Tracker, published each month by the NRF and Hackett Associates, projects imports through the U.S.’s largest ports will increase 9 percent in December over December 2009.
This latest projection is up from the November Global Port Tracker which estimated December’s imports would increase only 1 percent from December 2009.
Hackett Associates and the NRF also revised upward their projections for the next few months. The latest forecast is for January’s imports to be 8 percent higher than January 2010, compared to a 7 percent increase projected in the November report.
Global Port Tracker projects February’s imports to be up 10 percent compared to February 2010. In the November issue, the forecast called for imports to be down 5 percent compared to February 2010.
Likewise, March is now projected to be up 6 percent compared to March 2010, whereas the last projection called for a 10 percent decline from March 2010.
The NRF also revised upwards its forecast for sales during the November-December holiday season. The retailers group now projects that holiday season sales will be up 3.3 percent over last year, which is upwardly revised from its last projection of 2.3 percent.
“The improved outlook comes after a strong start to the holiday season and is based on a variety of economic factors including stock market gains, recent income growth and savings built up during the recession that are all giving consumers the capacity to spend,” the report stated.
Retailers’ costs are increasing, however, as carriers engage in slow-steaming of their vessels to reduce fuel consumption and utilize their growing vessel capacity.
“Shippers have not benefited from slow steaming. The increased round-trip voyage time has a direct impact on the time cost of goods,” said Ben Hackett, founder of Hackett Associates. “As a result, costs have gone up along the whole supply chain with increased inventory and transportation costs.”
--Contact Bill Mongelluzzo at email@example.com.