Retailers remain cautious on merchandise imports

We are witnessing a period of import trade growth that is running more or less in sync with the U.S. economic expansion.

By ·

Import volume at the nation’s major retail container ports is expected to increase 1.1 percent in June over the same month last year, reflecting modest growth expectations as retailers head toward the back-to-school and holiday seasons, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released today 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,” NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. “We aren’t expecting significant increases for imports until October, when retailers will have a better idea of what to expect for holiday demand.”




The underlying growth rate in the economy is stronger than the headline numbers suggest, IHS Chief Economist Nariman Behravesh, but he agreed that shippers remain “ultra-cautious” about hiring and capital spending.

U.S. ports followed by Global Port Tracker handled 1.31 million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units in April, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was up 14.6 percent from an unusually slow March but down 0.1 percent from April 2012. One TEU is one 20-foot cargo container or its equivalent.



May was estimated at 1.4 million TEU, up 2.2 percent from a year ago. June is forecast at 1.4 million TEU, up 1.1 percent from last year; July at 1.44 million TEU, up 1.9 percent; August at 1.43 million TEU, up 0.5 percent; September at 1.42 million TEU, up 0.8 percent; and October at 1.45 million TEU, up 7.9 percent.

The first six months of 2013 are expected to total 7.8 million TEU, up 1.9 percent from the first half of 2012. The total for 2012 was 15.8 million TEU, up 2.9 percent from 2011.


“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,” Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett said. “The impact of this extremely cautious consumer spending is that we expect import consumption to remain weak for the coming four to six months.”



About the Author

Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at [email protected]

Subscribe to Modern Materials Handling Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Find out what the world’s most innovative companies are doing to improve productivity in their plants and distribution centers.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Article Topics

· All Topics
Latest Whitepaper
Capturing Labor, Space, and Accuracy Returns with AS/RS
Find out how the demand of e-commerce and digital age expectations are driving the need to automate material handling with AS/RS solutions to improve labor productivity, save space, and reduce costs associated with inaccurate picks
Download Today!
From the November 2017 Modern Materials Handling Issue
A new facility, iPhones and a new WMS allowed cookware manufacturer Lodge to double its business for the fourth time in 20 years and shorten order delivery time from 10 days to three.
10th Annual Salary Survey: The Price of Performance
Let’s put Automatic Data Capture (ADC) Technology to Work
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
The State of the DC Voice Market
A lot has changed in the last 10 years, especially in voice technology. This webinar will cover the state of the voice market, review two leading voice solutions and help you gain a better understanding of the options and capabilities available today.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
Lodge Manufacturing: Distribution Cast in Iron
A new facility, iPhones and a new WMS allowed cookware manufacturer Lodge to double its business for...
Rochester Drug Cooperative: Robots ready for work
It’s still early stages, but Rochester Drug Cooperative is proving that mobile robotic piece...

System Report: Pouch sorter powers Stage’s fulfillment needs
How a hometown department store chain transformed its e-fulfillment processes with pouch sortation...
Cubing and Weighing Equipment: Measure Up
The use of cubing and weighing equipment is growing beyond dimensional weight applications.