NRF: February to Bring Drop in Retail Imports

Retail Container Traffic Expected to Grow 9 Percent in DecemberWASHINGTON-Import volume at the nation’s major retail container ports will decrease 8.4 percent in February from the same month last year, according to the most recent Global Port Tracker Report from the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.

February usually shapes up as the slowest month of the year, an NRF statement on the report noted. “Ports and distribution centers are getting the break they deserve after the busy holiday season, but it won’t last long,” said Jonathan Gold, NRF’s vice president for supply chain and customs policy. “Retailers will be moving spring merchandise toward their shelves in just a few weeks, and early numbers point to a busy season ahead.”

In December, the most recent month with hard numbers, import volume fell 3.3 percent from November but was up 0.6 percent from December 2012. The report has projected a 4.5 percent year-over-year rise in import volume for January. March is expected to bring a 13.7 percent jump in import volume from March 2013.

That gain is expected to be followed by a 6.9 percent year-over-year increase in April and a 4.2 percent pickup in May. June’s import volume is projected to rise 5.6 percent.

While retailers will begin to stock their shelves for spring, wobbly consumer confidence remains a worry for the industry. Ben Hackett, founder of Hackett Associates, said, “On the consumer side, there is continued hesitancy in spending as net disposable income remains virtually flat. As a result, the inventory-to-sales ratio remains stubbornly high.”