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NRF Estimates Retail Imports Will Be Up 4.8% in January

Volume 2, Issue 1
January 15, 2014
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Import volume at the nation’s major retail container ports is expected to grow 4.8% in January over the same month last year, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report from the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.

Estimates show 2013 will be up 2.8% over 2012, NRF reported on Jan. 10.

“Retailers are still assessing the holiday season, but they’re also looking ahead to see what will happen in the new year,” said Jonathan Gold, NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy. “Based on these early numbers, 2014 looks like it should be off to a good start.”

U.S. ports followed by Global Port Tracker handled 1.37 million TEUs in November, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was down 4.3% from October as imports for the holiday season wound down, but up 6.5% from November 2012.

December was estimated at 1.35 million TEU, up 5% from 2012. If that estimate holds once final numbers are available, 2013 will have totaled 16.3 million TEU, up 2.8% over 2012’s 15.8 billion TEU, NRF pointed out. That compares with 3.4% growth in 2012 over 2011.

The cargo numbers come as retailers wait for the final sales figures for 2013 holiday season, which NRF predicted would grow 3.9% to $602.1 billion.

August, September and October imports totaled 4.35 million TEU, up 4.3% over 2012, NRF said.

January 2014 is forecast at 1.37 million TEU, up 4.8% from January 2013; February at 1.18 million TEU, down 7.5% from last year; March at 1.32 million TEU, up 15.9%; April at 1.4 million TEU, up 7.7%; and May at 1.46 million TEU, up 4.6%.

“The new year looks to be stronger than the outgoing one, with better-than-expected GDP figures, lower unemployment rates and continued low inflation,” Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett said.

“Expectations of a stronger dollar will also help to increase consumer confidence as import prices continue to fall,” he predicted.

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