Increased Port Traffic Points to Retail Optimism

After two-and-a-half years of declines, import cargo at the nation’s major container ports is on the upswing.
According to the monthly Global Port Tracker, released by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates, import traffic grew in December and is on pace to continue through the first half of 2010.
In November, the study found that U.S. ports handled 1.09 million containers, which was down 8 percent from October — normally the busiest month of the year — and 10 percent lower than a year ago. November also marked the 28th straight month of declines compared with the year-earlier month.
The study showed that in December, imports picked up 1.7 percent to 1.08 million containers.
“These numbers are a clear sign that retailers are optimistic about 2010,” Jonathan Gold, VP for supply chain and customs policy at NRF, said in a statement. “Retailers are still going to be cautious with their inventories, but we wouldn’t see these increases in imports if stores weren’t expecting sales to improve.”

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