Containerized imports at the major U.S. gateways will decline in February, but volumes will pick up in the spring, according to the Global Port Tracker.
The analyst expects trade volume by mid-year to be up a modest 0.5 percent compared to the same period last year. Consumer confidence is strengthening, which indicates that imports from Asia should increase, but retailers remain cautious about building their inventory levels.
“Merchants want to be sure that growth will be sustained and that demand will be there to meet supply,” said Jonathan Gold, vice president for supply chain and customs policy at the National Retail Federation. The Global Port Tracker is published monthly by the NRF and Hackett Associates.
Containerized imports in February are projected to be down 6.8 percent from February 2011. However, imports will increase 8.6 percent in March and 2.4 percent in April from the same months last year. May is projected to be down 0.7 percent while imports will increase 3 percent in June compared to the 2011 numbers.
“Current statistics suggest that the economy will continue to improve as we continue into 2012,” said Ben Hackett, founder of Hackett Associates. “The question is, will wholesalers and retailers be able to manage their inventories as well as they did in 2011? Most likely, yes.”