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11/15/2012



Rail News: Intermodal

National Retail Federation: November appears promising for U.S. port volume despite Hurricane Sandy


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Import cargo volume at the nation's major container ports is expected to increase 5.9 percent in November despite the temporary closure of some ports by Hurricane Sandy, according to the latest monthly "Global Port Tracker" report released by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates.

"Sandy certainly caused major problems that are still being cleaned up, but retailers managed to get their cargo into the country and will have plenty of merchandise on store shelves for the holidays," said NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold in a prepared statement. "While there was clearly a regional impact, at this point the storm is not expected to have a major effect on holiday sales numbers."

The 12 U.S. ports monitored by Global Port Tracker handled 1.42 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in September — the same as in August, but up 3.3 percent from September 2011's level — and are estimated to have handled 1.46 million TEUs in October, which would represent a 10.7 percent year-over-year increase. November volume is forecasted at 1.37 million TEUs, or a 5.9 percent rise from November 2011's level.

August, September and October are the three busiest months in the retail industry as retailers bring merchandise into the country for the holiday season. NRF is projecting that holiday sales will increase 4.1 percent this year to $586.1 billion. However, retail sales (excluding automobiles, gas stations and restaurants) decreased 0.3 percent in October when seasonally adjusted from September primarily because Hurricane Sandy impacted consumer spending in the northeast and mid-Atlantic states, and the overall economy was affected by the impending fiscal cliff, NRF officials said.

The federation also is forecasting December port volume at 1.34 million TEUs, a 9.4 percent rise; January volume at 1.39 million TEUs, an 8.2 percent gain; February volume at 1.22 million TEUs, a 12 percent jump; and March volume at 1.26 million TEUs, a 1.6 percent increase.

Global Port Tracker data covers ports in Long Angeles, Long Beach and Oakland, Calif.; Seattle and Tacoma, Wash.; New York/New Jersey; Hampton Roads in Virginia; Charleston, S.C.; Savannah, Ga.; Houston; and Port Everglades and Miami in Florida.


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