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US retail imports stay over average as port talks continue
Sep '14
“Retailers concerned by the lack of a West Coast longshoremen’s contract will continue to bring merchandise into the country at above-average levels in September, but volume will drop from the record set in August, says a new report released by the National Retail Federation (NRF).

“The negotiations have made progress and retailers have been stocking up, but there’s still cargo that needs to arrive before the holiday season kicks off,” NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy, Jonathan Gold informs.

According to the Global Port Tracker report, import volume at U.S. ports covered by the tracker is expected to reach 1.47 million containers in September, down from the all-time monthly record of 1.53 million in August.

The contract between the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union expired on July 1, prompting concerns about potential disruptions that could affect back-to-school or holiday merchandise.

A tentative agreement on health benefits was announced last month but the two sides are continuing to negotiate on other issues as dockworkers remain on the job.

U.S. ports followed by the Global Port Tracker handled 1.5 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units in July, up 1.1 percent from June and 3.7 percent from July 2013. One TEU is one 20-foot cargo container or its equivalent.

August was estimated at 1.53 million TEU, up 2.9 percent year-on-year and September is forecast at 1.47 million TEU, up 2.4 percent from last year. October is forecast at 1.51 million TEU, up 5.5 percent and November at 1.39 million TEU, up 3.8 percent.

These numbers, NRF said, would bring 2014 to a total of 17.1 million TEU, an increase of 5.3 percent over 2013’s 16.2 million TEU. The first half of the 2014 totalled 8.3 million TEU, up 7 percent over the corresponding period of last year.

The import numbers come as NRF is forecasting 3.6 percent sales growth in 2014. “Cargo volume does not correlate directly with sales but is a barometer of retailers’ expectations”, NRF notes.

Hackett Associates founder - Ben Hackett informs that cargo levels have bounced back since the lows seen during the 2009 recession, but that the recovery has not been as steady as those after previous recessions.

“The North American economy is certainly growing, but at lower rates than one would expect coming out of a deep recession,” Hackett said. “It remains hesitant, growing in spurts rather than in a sustained pattern.” (AR)

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

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