Major US’ retail container ports are noting an unexpected growth in imports during the busy holiday season, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report by National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates. “We are not expecting final sales numbers for few more days, but yes, with import volumes we can see retailer’s strong holiday season,” NRF’s Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said.
According to the reports, ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.64 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) in November; December is estimated at 1.54 million TEU, up 7 per cent Y-o-Y instead of expected 3.2 per cent rise. Additionally, NRF’s annual forecast called for US $ 655.8 billion in 2016 holiday sales during November and December, a 3.6 per cent increase over 2015. November sales were up by 5 per cent Y-o-Y, and the Commerce Department is scheduled to release December data soon.
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Cargo volume for 2016 is now estimated at 18.8 million TEU, up by 2.9 per cent from 2015 as against previously expected 2 per cent. Total volume for 2015 was 18.2 million TEU, up by 5.4 per cent from 2014.
January is forecast at 1.57 million TEU, up by 5.7 per cent from January 2016; February at 1.52 million TEU, down 1.5 per cent from last year; March at 1.41 million TEU, up by 6.5 per cent from last year; April at 1.55 million TEU, up 7.3 per cent, and May at 1.61 million TEU, down by 0.5 per cent.
“Economic data is fickle by nature – it surges and falls and often surprises us,” Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett said, referring to some of the contradictory economic numbers seen over the past year. “There is both optimism and pessimism, pointers are there only for showing growth as well as ‘destagnation’,”he added.