Retail Import Volume Rises 6.5 Percent in October

Retail Import CargoWASHINGTON-Import volume at the nation’s major retail container ports grew by an estimated 6.5 percent in October over the same month of last year, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.

In addition, year-over-year increases in import volume are also projected for the remainder of this year. The October increase has apparently occurred in spite of the government shutdown, according to a statement on this month’s report from both NRF and Hackett Associates. “Retailers place their orders for merchandise months ahead of time, so cargo arriving at the ports in October and for most of the rest of the year was ordered long before anybody ever heard of a shutdown,” explained Jonathan Gold, NRF’s vice president for supply chain and customs policy.

Import cargo volume for September, the most recent month with available figures, was up 2 percent from September 2012, although it declined by 3.6 percent from August. Following the expected gain in October, cargo volume is forecast for year-over-year increases of 3.3 percent in November, 1.8 percent in December and 3 percent in January. After an expected decrease of 7.5 percent in February, March should bring an gain of 17 percent.

“The question at this point isn’t how much merchandise arrived, but how much consumers bought, and how they are going to react as economic talks continue in Washington,” Gold said. “Lawmakers need to take steps that build confidence, not continue the uncertainty.”

For all of 2013, import cargo volume is projected for a gain of 2.3 percent over 2012, down from the previous prediction of a 2.7 percent increase. Ben Hackett, founder of Hackett Associates, said, “The GDP forecast for the remainder of this year is not expected to be seriously impacted by the government shutdown, and growth going forward should be back to its expansionary path. The first half of 2014 will bring solid growth back.”