Retail Container Imports Expected to Increase 1.6 Percent in July

Modest increased in import cargo volume are expected through the holiday season cycle

Washington, D.C.July 10, 2012—Import cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports is expected to increase 1.6 percent in July compared with the same month last year; and modest year-over-year increases are expected through the holiday season shipping cycle, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released today by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates.

“Whether consumers are going to have the confidence to spend during the next few months depends on what happens with employment, but retailers are being cautiously optimistic,” said Jonathan Gold Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy of the National Retail Federation. “Sales can fluctuate from month to month but these import numbers show that retailers are still expecting this year to be better than last year.”

U.S. ports followed by Global Port Tracker handled 1.34 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in May, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was up 4.1 percent from April and 2.3 percent from May 2011.

June remained at an estimated 1.34 million TEU, the same as May but up 4.7 percent from June 2011. July is forecast at 1.38 million TEU, up 1.6 percent from last year; August at 1.44 million TEU, up 6.2 percent; September at 1.45 million TEU, up 6.8 percent; October at 1.47 million TEU, up 12.6 percent over lower-than-usual numbers last year; and November at 1.3 million TEU, up two percent.

The first half of 2012 totaled an estimated 7.5 million TEU, up 2.6 percent from the same period last year. The total for 2011 was 15.1 million TEU, up 0.6 percent from 2010. NRF projects 2012 retail sales will grow 3.4 percent to $2.53 trillion.

Numbers in this month’s report reflect the addition of Miami to the list of ports covered.

“Economists and commentators are talking the economy down,” said Ben Hackett, Founder, Hackett Associates. “Despite the mixed signals, we remain optimistic that consumers will remain in the market.”