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Retailers Stocking Up Ahead of Holiday Season

For Immediate Release
Contact: J. Craig Shearman (202) 626-8134
shearmanc@nrf.com

Retailers Stocking Up Ahead of Holiday Season


WASHINGTON, September 9, 2013 – Import volume at the nation’s major retail container ports is expected to grow 5.1 percent in September over the same month last year as retailers head into the holiday season, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released today by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.

“Retailers are making up for the slow imports seen earlier in the year,” NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. “It’s too early to predict holiday sales, but merchants are clearly stocking up.”

Cargo import numbers do not correlate directly with retail sales or employment because they count only the number of cargo containers brought into the country, not the value of the merchandise inside them. But the amount of merchandise imported nonetheless provides a rough barometer of retailers’ expectations.

U.S. ports followed by Global Port Tracker handled 1.43 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units in July, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was a 5.4 percent increase over June and up 1.1 percent from July 2012, and follows year-over-year declines in three of the four previous months. One TEU is one 20-foot cargo container or its equivalent.

August was estimated at 1.48 million TEU, up 4.1 percent from last year. September is forecast at 1.48 million TEU, up 5.1 percent; October at 1.46 million TEU, up 9 percent; November at 1.31 million TEU, up 2.2 percent; and December at 1.3 million TEU, up 0.7 percent. January 2014 is forecast at 1.33 million TEU, up 1.9 percent from January 2013.

The total for 2013 is forecast at 16.2 million TEU, up 2.5 percent from 2012’s 15.8 million TEU. The first six months of 2013 totaled 7.8 million TEU, up 1.2 percent from the first half of 2012.

“The U.S. economy is on the road to sustained growth,” Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett said. “Second-quarter GDP was well above expectations and surprised most forecasters, the unemployment picture is improving, and we believe consumer confidence will translate into increased sales during the fourth quarter.”

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. The report is free to NRF retail members, and subscription information is available at www.nrf.com/PortTracker or by calling (202) 783-7971. Subscription information for non-members can be found at www.globalporttracker.com.

As the world’s largest retail trade association and the voice of retail worldwide, NRF represents retailers of all types and sizes, including chain restaurants and industry partners, from the United States and more than 45 countries abroad. Retailers operate more than 3.6 million U.S. establishments that support one in four U.S. jobs – 42 million working Americans. Contributing $2.5 trillion to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation’s economy. NRF’s This is Retail campaign highlights the industry’s opportunities for life-long careers, how retailers strengthen communities, and the critical role that retail plays in driving innovation. www.nrf.com

Hackett Associates provides expert consulting, research and advisory services to the international maritime industry, government agencies and international institutions.

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