Retail box traffic forecast to rise 25%
Import cargo volume at the nation's major retail container ports will increase 25 percent during the first half of 2010 compared with the same period a year ago, the monthly Global Port Tracker report forecasts.
The report, created by the National Retail Federation and consulting firm Hackett Associates, estimated container volumes in the next six months will total 7.4 million TEUs, up 25 percent from the 5.9 million received in the first six months of 2009.
'This is a dramatic turnaround over what we've seen during the past two years,' said Jonathan Gold, NRF vice president for supply chain and customs policy. 'Increases in import volumes don't correspond directly with dollar volumes in sales, so caution has to be exercised when looking at these numbers. But retailers are clearly expecting to move more merchandise this year.'
U.S. ports handled 1.09 million TEUs in December, the latest month for which actual numbers are available. That was unchanged from November but up 2.6 percent from December 2008 to break a 28-month streak during which monthly totals were lower than the same month the year before. 2009 ended with a total volume of 12.7 million TEU, down 17 percent from 2008's 15.2 million TEU and the lowest since the 12.5 million TEU reported in 2003.
Global Port Tracker forecasts monthly first-half growth over the same period in 2009 as:
' January, 1.19 million TEU, up 17 percent.
' February, 1.1 million TEU, up 30 percent.
' March, 1.18 million TEU, up 23 percent.
' April, 1.25 million TEU, up 27 percent.
' May at 1.3 million TEU, up 26 percent.
' June at 1.38 million TEU, up 36 percent.
Hackett Associates founder Ben Hackett disagreed with economists who fear the economy is in the middle of a W-shaped recovery where another dip could follow current signs of an upturn.
'This forecast assumes that we are not in a double-dip recession and that a recovery is underway,' Hackett said. 'Although 2009 saw decreased import activity levels, the forecast for 2010 points towards growth.'
Global Port Tracker, which consulting firm Hackett Associates produces for NRS, covers the U.S. ports of Long Angeles-Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle and Tacoma on the West Coast; New York-New Jersey, Hampton Roads, Charleston and Savannah on the East Coast; and Houston on the Gulf Coast.