IMPORT AND EXPORT

Cargo Container Imports Will See a Rising Tide This Year 


During the first half of this year, cargo-container activity at the nation’s ports is expected to inch up 4.3 percent over last year, according to the recently released “Global Port Tracker” report, prepared every month for the National Retail Federation.

Import volumes at the ports will be in positive territory for just about every month except February, whose traffic is always affected by Chinese New Year, when many Chinese factories close down for weeks.

At the same time, the National Retail Federation is predicting that retail sales in the United States will grow 4.1 percent this year, depending on how Washington’s policies on economic issues affect consumer confidence. “On the consumer side, there is continued hesitancy in spending as net disposable income remains virtually flat,” said Ben Hackett, whose Hackett Associates prepares the “Global Tracker Report” for the NRF. “As a result, the inventory-to-sales ratio remains stubbornly high.”

Cargo-container volumes in January were estimated to be 1.37 million 20-foot containers, up 4.5 percent over January 2012. February was anticipated to be a very slow month because of Chinese New Year, which started Jan. 31 and ended Feb. 6. Cargo-container volume in February is predicted to be off by 8.4 percent over the same month last year, ringing in with 1.17 million containers.

March volumes will skyrocket, with about 1.29 million containers coming through the ports, which is up 13.7 percent over last year. April will be robust with 1.39 million containers moving through the ports, a 6.9 percent jump over last year. May will bring an estimated 1.45 million containers, or a 4.2 percent rise over last year, and June will see 1.43 million containers coming through the docks, up 5.6 percent over last year.

Last year, the import volume at the nation’s major ports saw a 2.3 percent improvement over 2012, reflecting a gradual warming in the U.S. economy.

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