Major U.S. retail container ports are expected to see a 1.1 percent year-over-year increase in import volume in June, reflecting “modest growth expectations” as retailers head the back-to-school and holiday seasons, according to the latest monthly Global Port Tracker report, released by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.
“With the economic recovery moving slowly, retailers are being cautious this summer and could hold off on stocking up for the holiday season until fall,” said Jonathan Gold, NRF’s vice president for supply chain and customs policy, in a written statement. “We aren’t expecting significant increases for imports until October, when retailers will have a better idea of what to expect for holiday demand.”
U.S. ports followed by Global Port Tracker handled 1.31 million 20-foot-equivalent units in April (the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available), rising 14.6 percent from March, but declining 0.1 percent from April 2012. May was estimated at 1.4 million TEUs, up 2.2 percent from a year ago, and June is forecast at 1.4 million TEUs, up 1.1 percent. The first six months of 2013 are expected to total 7.8 million TEUs, improving 1.9 percent versus the first half of 2012.
“We are witnessing a period of import trade growth that is running more or less in sync with the U.S. economic expansion. Unfortunately, both are anemic,” said Ben Hackett, founder of Hackett Associates. “The impact of this extremely cautious consumer spending is that we expect import consumption to remain weak for the coming four to six months.”