Supply Chain Logistics News / Supply Chain News / Compliance News / Intermodal News / Risk & Compliance / Economic Development / Ground / Ports

Retail Imports Spike as Contract Deadline Approaches

Inventory levels up earlier in the year as a severe winter kept shoppers at home and retailers began stocking up in advance of the port negotiations.

Import volume at major U.S. container ports is expected to increase 7.5 percent in June as retailers bring unusually high quantities of merchandise into the country early to avoid any potential disruptions after the labor contract with West Coast dockworkers expires, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.

“We don’t want to see disruptions at the ports but retailers are making sure they are prepared in case that happens,” NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. “Whether it’s bringing cargo in early or other contingency plans, retailers will keep the shelves stocked for the back-to-school and holiday seasons.”

The Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union began negotiations last month on a new contract to replace the agreement that expires June 30. NRF has urged both sides to avoid any disruptions that could affect the flow of back-to-school or holiday merchandise.
West Coast ports handle more than two-thirds of U.S. retail container cargo, including the bulk of cargo from Asia. The last major coast-wide shutdown there occurred in the fall of 2002, closing ports for 10 days and creating a months-long backlog to be cleared.

U.S. ports followed by Global Port Tracker handled 1.43 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) in April, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. The number was up 9.9 percent from March and 10.3 percent from April 2013. One TEU is one 20-foot cargo container or its equivalent.

May was estimated at 1.47 million TEU, up 5.8 percent from the same month last year, and June is forecast at 1.46 million TEU, up 7.5 percent from last year. Both are unusually high numbers not normally seen until later in the summer or fall, a sign that retailers have begun bringing imported merchandise into the country early because of the uncertainty of what could happen when the labor contract expires.

July is forecast at an even-higher 1.51 million TEU, up 4.4 percent from last year; August at 1.52 million TEU, up 1.9 percent; September at 1.45 million TEU, up 0.8 percent; and October at 1.48 million TEU, up 3.4 percent.

The first half of the year is expected to total 8.3 million TEU, up 6.5 percent over last year. The total for 2013 was 16.2 million TEU, up 2.3 percent from 2012’s 15.8 million TEU.

The import numbers come as NRF is forecasting 4.1 percent sales growth in 2014. Cargo volume does not correlate directly with sales but is a barometer of retailers’ expectations.

Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett said inventory levels were up earlier in the year as a severe winter kept shoppers at home and retailers began stocking up in advance of the port negotiations.

Global Port Tracker, which is produced for NRF by the consulting firm Hackett Associates, covers the U.S. ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle and Tacoma on the West Coast; New York/New Jersey, Hampton Roads, Charleston, Savannah, Port Everglades and Miami on the East Coast, and Houston on the Gulf Coast. The report is free to NRF retail members, and subscription information is available at www.nrf.com/PortTracker or by calling (202) 783-7971. Subscription information for non-members can be found at www.globalporttracker.com.

You must login or register in order to post a comment.

Multimedia

Videos

Image Galleries

KC SmartPort Momentum

Kansas City SmartPort Momentum 2013 focused on 3PLs, the issues facing the industry, and the role or logistics in economic development

Podcasts

Assurance of Supply: A Top Concern for Manufacturers

Every manufacturer has an assurance of supply problem to some extent due to the complexity of global sourcing. For years, manufacturers were blessed with high margins but margins have grown paper thin. You can’t fill up your distribution centers with excess inventory – not only is there a cost factor but the pace of business and consumer buying trends causes goods to quickly turn obsolete. Assurance of supply provides the speed and agility that is essential to being able to compete in today’s market.

 

Speaker info: Diane Palmquist, VP Manufacturing Industry Solutions

                                         

More Podcasts

World Trade 100 Magazine

wt september 2014

2014 September

Check out the September 2014 edition of World Trade WT100, featuring the 2014 Logistics Directory, plus much more!
Table Of Contents Subscribe

Transportation Capacity

As peak season has gotten underway, what is your experience with transportation capacity?
View Results Poll Archive

WT100 STORE

world-class-warehousing.gif
World-Class Warehousing and Material Handling, 1st Edition

Filled with proven operational solutions, it will guide managers as they develop a warehouse master plan, one designed to minimize the effects of supply chain inefficiencies as it improves logistics accuracy and inventory management - and reduces overall warehousing expense.

More Products

Clear Seas Research

Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications,Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.

Use our interactive maps to locate service providers across North America.Interactive Map

Logistics Development Partners 

IWLA Members

STAY CONNECTED