These 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, New York/New Jersey, Oakland, Savannah, Seattle and Tacoma.
“With consumer confidence building, retailers are optimistic that the economy is recovering but are continuing to be cautious with their inventory levels,” said NRF vice president for Supply Chain and Customs Policy, Jonathan Gold. “Retailers want to be sure that growth will be sustained and that demand will be there to meet supply.”
US ports followed by Global Port Tracker handled 1.17m teu in December, the latest month for which finalised numbers are available. That was down 6% from the preceding month, but up 2% from December 2010. That brought the year-end 2012 total to nearly 14.8m teu, up 0.4% from 2010’s 14.75m teu.
The report estimates the January count at 1.17m teu, down 3.3% from January 2011, and forecasts that the February 6.8% drop will account for 1.03m teu. In subsequent months it forecasts: March 1.18m teu (+8.6%); April 1.25m teu (+2.4%); May 1.28m teu (-0.7%) and June 1.28m teu (+3%). It expects the first 2012 total will be up 0.5% from last year to 7.18m teu.
“Current statistics suggest that the economy will continue to improve as we continue into 2012,” said Hackett Associates’ founder Ben Hackett. “The question is will wholesalers and retailers be able to manage their inventories as well as they did in 2011? Most likely, yes.”