Demand for container imports during this year’s back-to-school and holiday shipping seasons will get a boost from higher-than-expected consumer spending, a major US box importer group predicts.
The National Retail Federation (NRF) raised monthly year-on-year growth estimates for the summer and fall peak in its latest report released on 8 July.
US container imports for the month of June, which NRF forecast to increase 2.6% to 1.52 million teu, has been revised to 1.56 million teu, up 5.5%.
Volume growth estimates for June through October were also raised by several percentage points.
In June, retailers tamped down volume forecasts after supply chains returned to normal, following ratification of a West Coast labour pact.
However, “US consumer spending recorded its largest increase in nearly six years in May, suggesting that the level of confidence about the future has improved,” Hackett Associates founder Ben Hackett explained. “This is very positive news.”
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Hackett’s Global Port Tracker, which is produced for NRF, revealed major US container terminals handled 1.61 million teu in May, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available, for an increase of 8.2% compared with May 2014. In June, NRF and Global Port Tracker had estimated May volume increasing just 5%, to 1.56 million teu.
“Retailers are continuing to work with their business partners to address ongoing congestion issues impacting their supply chains,” commented NRF vice-president for supply chain Jonathan Gold.
Gold added, “Part of the solution will be Congress passing a long-term highway bill that addresses freight movement.”