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Global Port Tracker: Retailers Stocking Up Ahead of Holiday Season

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Import volume at the top U.S. containerized retail cargo handling ports is expected to grow 5.1 percent in September as retailers head into the holiday season, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released September 9 by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.

Global Port Tracker’s conclusions are based on a survey and analysis of inbound container traffic flows at the ports of Charleston, Hampton Roads, Houston, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Miami, New York/New Jersey, Oakland, Port Everglades, Savannah, Seattle and Tacoma.

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

The U.S. ports followed by Global Port Tracker handled 1.43 million TEUs in July, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was a 5.4 percent increase from the preceding month and up 1.1 percent from July 2012, and follows year-over-year declines in three of the four previous months.

August is estimated at 1.48 million TEUs, up 4.1 percent from last year. Subsequent month forecasts: September – 1.48 million TEUs (+5.1 percent); October – 1.46 million TEUs (+9 percent); November – 1.31 million TEUs (+2.2 percent); December – 1.3 million TEUs (+0.7 percent); January 2014 – 1.33 million TEUs (+1.9 percent).

For full CY 2013, Global Port Tracker is forecasting 16.2 million TEUs, up 2.5 percent from 2012's 15.8 million TEUs. 

"The U.S. economy is on the road to sustained growth," said Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett. "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."

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