Panjiva data shows a 2% decrease in U.S.-bound shipments from October to November
Data from Panjiva, an online search engine with detailed information on global suppliers and manufacturers, stated that the number of waterborne shipments entering the United States fell 2% from October to November.
This marks the third straight month U.S.-bound waterborne shipments have declined, following 7% and 2% declines from August to September and September to October, respectively, according to Panjiva.
But even though shipments were down, the number of global manufacturers shipping to the U.S. increased from October to November—at 147,578 for a 4% increase— along with the number of U.S. companies receiving waterborne shipments from global manufacturers—at 131,068 for a 5% gain.
“What we are seeing now is the typical seasonal trajectory,” said Panjiva CEO Josh Green in an interview. “What is going to be more telling in the next couple of months is how steep the drop is, with typically February being the bottoming out month for how low it will go.”
Green said what happens at that point will be an indication of how confident retailers are feeling heading into 2011, adding that it is too soon to draw any conclusions. And he said many eyes will be on consumer spending levels for December and shipping data in the February-March timeframe to get a better view as to what retailers took from the holiday season this year.
Earlier this year, Green said there was a concern that retailers were piling up too much inventory, coupled with a lack of evidence that consumers would come out and spend in a meaningful way this holiday season. But it now appears that based in initial numbers that consumer spending was solid, and that retailers projections for inventory levels were on target.
“Retailers are not facing inventory shortages and did not over-buy in a significant way, which was nice to see,” said Green.
Heading into the first quarter of 2011, Green said the most interesting metric to monitor will be the August to February delta for the number of shipments. From August 2009 to February 2010, shipments were down 11%, according to Panjiva. And from August 2008 to February 2009, there was a 36% drop in the number of shipments, which Green described as the “cataclysm” number.
“Last year’s number at 11% is roughly about where we are right now, so it will be somewhat worse than last year in terms of the drop-off, and what that reflects is uncertainty around where consumer sentiment is going to be,” noted Green. “But combining so far what we are seeing with the shipping data, combined with the consumer side, I am feeling more optimistic than I was a couple of months ago.”