FINANCE

Port Traffic Predictions This Year Indicate a Healthier Economy Ahead

If cargo container volume at the nation’s ports is any indication, 2014 should be a good year for retailers.

The National Retail Federation predicts steady increases in imports this year while the ports are expected to see a 2.8 percent rise in cargo-container volumes in 2013 over 2012.

In its monthly Global Port Tracker report, the retail federation predicts that cargo-container volumes at the country’s major ports will increase 4.8 percent in January. They will decline 7.5 percent in February when Chinese New Year’s takes place, jump 15.9 percent in March and then inch up 7.7 percent in May.

“The new year looks to be stronger than the outgoing one, with better-than-expected GDP figures, lower unemployment rates and continued low inflations,” said Ben Hackett, founder of consulting firm Hackett Associates, which prepares the Global Port Tracker report for the NRF.

In the Los Angeles area, cargo-container volumes at the two local ports were up a combined 3 percent. However, cargo-container volumes slumped 2.59 percent at the Port of Los Angeles last year. That was offset by the Port of Long Beach, which showed an 11 percent rise in its cargo-container traffic.

Last year, the Port of Long Beach had its third-busiest year, with 6.73 million 20-foot containers coming and going through its docks. The biggest banner years were in 2006 and 2007, when the Long Beach port handled more than 7 million cargo containers right before the last recession.

For 2013, the Port of Los Angeles processed 7.86 million cargo containers, compared with 8 million in 2012. Its best years were in 2006, with 8.5 million containers, and 2007, with 8.4 million containers.

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