Washington–The nation’s major retailer are stocking up for the Spring/Summer season, according to the latest data from the monthly Global Port Tracker report released today by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates. March import volume is expected to jump 12.4%.
“Retailers are bouncing back from the annual post-holiday slowdown and getting ready for the surge in activity that comes each year as the weather warms up,” Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. “Shelves are going to be well-stocked with everything from bathing suits to barbecues.”
Congestion Still a Problem
“Congestion has been a problem for many ports during this slowdown, so operations will need to improve to handle the expected surge in the coming months,” Gold said. Cargo movement at some ports has been slowed by a number of issues recently, including severe winter weather and shortages of labor and equipment.
U.S. ports followed by Global Port Tracker handled 1.36 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEU) in January, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was up 5.3% from December and 4.1% from January 2013. One TEU is one 20-foot cargo container or its equivalent.
The import numbers come as NRF is forecasting 4.1% sales growth in 2014, dependent upon how Washington policies on economic issues affect consumer confidence.
“At the end of the day, it all depends on consumption,” Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett said. “We cannot escape the basic tenant of economics that demand determines growth or weakness. Somehow, the average consumer needs to be given the economic confidence to go out and spend. Without that, the economy will remain weak and no amount of tinkering by the Federal Reserve will have much of an impact.”
About Global Port Tracker
Global Port Tracker, which is produced for NRF by the consulting firm Hackett Associates, covers the U.S. ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle and Tacoma on the West Coast; New York/New Jersey, Hampton Roads, Charleston, Savannah, Port Everglades and Miami on the East Coast, and Houston on the Gulf Coast. www.globalporttracker.com