The Global Port Tracker retail shipping industry report forecast a 0.3 percent increase in December container imports through major U.S. ports and raised its outlook for the first three months of 2012.
The latest Port Tracker, produced by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates, followed two straight months of reduced forecasts.
“The uptick we’re expecting for December isn’t large at all but it comes after several months where retailers had reduced their imports from last year, so it’s a positive sign by comparison,” Jonathan Gold, NRF vice president for supply chain and customs policy. “Retailers are placing a cautious bet that consumer demand is increasing.”
The NRF forecasts a 2.8 percent year-over-year rise in total November-December holiday sales. Port Tracker counts container volume, which doesn’t directly correlate with retail sales
“We expect to see a mini-resurgence in December,” Hackett Associates founder Ben Hackett said. “With consumer spending on the rise, it would seem that the pace of retail sales will continue through to the New Year’s sales at least.”
Port Tracker said the 10 U.S. ports it tracks handled 1.28 million 20-foot-equivalent units in October, the latest month for which actual totals are available. That was down 3.5 percent from the year’s peak month in September and down 5 percent from October 2010. Port Tracker last month forecast a 2.3 percent drop.
November was estimated at 1.18 million TEUs, down 4.4 percent from a year ago. Port Tracker had forecast a 1.9 percent decline, and two months ago was predicting a 4 percent increase for the month.
December was forecast at 1.15 million TEUs, up 0.3 percent from last year and an improvement from the 3.33 percent decline forecast last month.
The forecast for January 2012 was upped to 1.15 million TEU, down 4.8 percent from January 2011 but an increase from the previously forecast drop of 8.7 percent to 1.1 million TEUs.
February, traditionally the slowest month of the year, is forecast at 1.04 million TEU, down 5.7 percent but higher than the previously forecast drop of 9.4 percent to 996,816 TEUs.
March is expected to see a 7 percent increase 1.17 million TEUs, compared with a previously forecast 0.6 percent decline to 1.08 million. April is forecast at 1.22 million TEU, the same as last year.
The total for 2011 is forecast at 14.73 million TEUs, down 0.1 percent from last year’s 14.75 million TEUs.
Global Port Tracker covers the U.S. ports of Long Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle and Tacoma on the West Coast; New York-New Jersey, Virginia, Charleston and Savannah on the East Coast, and Houston on the Gulf Coast.
Contact Joseph Bonney at firstname.lastname@example.org.