Retail Container Traffic to Increase 3.2 Percent in April

Increased consumer spending confidence impacts inventory demand

Washington, DC—April 10, 2012—Import cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports is expected to increase 3.2 percent in April compared with the same month last year, and year-over-year gains should continue through the end of summer, according to the “April 2012 Port Tracker” global report released today by retail trade association National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates.

“Retailers are continuing to watch rising gas prices but job gains and other indicators show the economy is strengthening,” said Jonathan Gold, Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy, NRF. “All of this should improve consumer confidence and lead to increased spending, so retailers are cautiously building up their inventories.”

U.S. ports followed by Global Port Tracker handled 1.04 million twenty-foot equivalent (TEU) units in February, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. With February traditionally the slowest month of the year, that was down 16 percent from January and 5.7 percent from February 2011.

March was estimated at 1.19 million TEU, up 9.6 percent from one year ago, while April is forecast at 1.25 million TEU, up 3.2 percent from last year. May is forecast at 1.29 million TEU, the same as last year; June at 1.29 million TEU, up 3.6 percent; July at 1.35 million TEU, up 1.9 percent, and August at 1.42 million TEU, up 7.4 percent.

The first half of 2012 should total 7.3 million TEU, up 2.2 percent from the same period last year. The total for 2011 was 14.8 million TEU, up 0.4 percent from 2010’s 14.75 million TEU. NRF continues to project 2012 retail sales will grow 3.4 percent to $2.53 trillion.

“Our forecast for the remainder of the year has brought us back to the traditional peak season patterns,” said Ben Hackett, Founder, Hackett Associates. “Hopefully the importers and the carriers can work closely together to ensure sufficient capacity and a solid supply chain.”

Global Port Tracker, produced by Hackett Associates, covers the U.S. ports of Long Angeles/Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle and Tacoma on the West Coast; New York/New Jersey, Hampton Roads, Charleston and Savannah on the East Coast, and Houston on the Gulf Coast.