Posts Tagged ‘National Retail Federation’

Imports Continue to Lag

November 10, 2022

Imports at major U.S. ports continue to show signs of slowing the National Retail Federation said this week.

Typically, imports peak in the fall as retailers gear up for the Christmas holiday shopping season.

Instead, this year Imports peaked last spring and continue to lag the record levels posted earlier this year.

NRF vice president Jonathan Gold said retailers stocked up earlier this year due to concerns about port congestion, rail and port labor negotiations, and other supply-chain issues.

“With a rail strike possible this month, there are still challenges in the supply chain, but the majority of holiday merchandise is already on hand and retailers are well prepared to meet demand,” he said

The trade group expects demand to continue to flatten through early next year.

The 13 U.S. ports monitored by NRF registered a record 2.4 million 20-foot equivalent units in May, but volume has mostly declined since then.

In October import volume was unofficially 2.02 million TEUs, which would be 8.5 percent lower than October 2021’s total.

November projections are 1.92 million TEUs, down 9.2 percent year over year with December volume projected at 1.9 million TEUs, down 9 percent.

Imports Have Begun Slowing

October 11, 2022

The National Retail Federation said imports at major U.S. container ports are expected to fall to the lowest level in nearly two years by the end of 2022.

The trade group’s Global Port Tracker indicated major ports handled 2.26 million 20-foot equivalent units in August — up 3.5 percent from July, but down 0.4 percent compared with August 2021.

September projections are 2.07 million TEUs for the month, down 3 percent year over year, while October is forecast at 2 million TEUs, down 9.4 percent compared with  the same month in 2021.

The last time the monthly total fell below 2 million TEUs was in February 2021, when major ports recorded 1.87 million TEUs, NRF officials said.

The first half of 2022 totaled 13.5 million TEUs, a 5.5 percent increase over the first six months of 2021.

For the full year, the report expects ports to reach a total of 26 million TEUs, up 0.7 percent. That would be an annual record for most imports of all time, beating 2021’s 25.8 million TEUs.

In 2023, imports are expected to briefly bounce back, although slowdowns are expected in February due to the Lunar New Year shutting down production in Asian countries.

NRF forecasts that 2022 retail sales will grow between 6 percent and 8 percent compared to last year. Sales were up 7.5 percent during the first eight months of 2022, NRF officials said.

A NRF news release said imports from Asia have slowed and cuts in carriers’ shipping capacity reflect falling demand for merchandise from well-stocked retailers even as consumers continue to spend.

Another factor has been closure of factories during China’s October Golden Week holiday along with the Chinese government imposing lockdowns in an effort to contain COVID-19 outbreaks.

Imports Likely to Fall Below 2021 Levels

September 14, 2022

The National Retail Federal said last week that imports at the nation’s major container ports are expected to fall below last year’s levels for the remainder of 2022.

“Consumers are still buying, but the cargo surge we saw during the past two years appears to be slowing down,” NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said in a news release.

Gold said in a statement that cargo levels are above pre-pandemic levels, but the rate of growth has slowed into negative numbers compared with unusually high volumes of 2021.

“The number of vessels waiting to dock on the West Coast has been reduced to near-normal,” the trade group said.

“But with the switch of some cargo to the East Coast, congestion and pressure on the ports has shifted to the East Coast. The inland supply chain, particularly rail, continues to face difficulties that have resulted in the delay of containers leaving ports, causing terminal congestion that impacts the ability of carriers to discharge their cargo.”

U.S. ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 2.18 million 20-foot equivalent units — one 20-foot container or its equivalent — in July.

That was down 3.1 percent from June and down 0.4 percent from July 2021 — only the third year-over-year decline in two years and the first since December 2021.

Imports Expected to Slow in 2022 Second Half

August 10, 2022

Imports are expected to slow in the second half of this year the National Retail Federation predicted this week.

That will go a long way toward easing the congestion that has hindered supply chains in the past year. Nonetheless, NRF said that imports for 2022 should be a net gain over 2021.

NRF projects that 2022 retail sales will grow between 6 percent to 8 percent over 2021. Sales rose 7 percent in the year’s first half.

The slow down would come on the heels of record-setting imports last spring at North American container ports.

“Retail sales are still growing, but the economy is slowing down, and that is reflected in cargo imports,” said NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold in a statement.

Gold said supply-chain challenges are not yet past, citing the potential for labor strife as labor negotiations at the West Coast ports and the freight railroads continue.

The contract between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association expired July 1, and many retailers brought in cargo early and shifted to East and Gulf Coast ports to avoid any potential disruptions related to contract negotiations.

The Port of Oakland was briefly shut down in late July by protests by independent truckers over a new state law that they say seeks to eliminate independent owner-operators.

Retailers Urge Creation of PEB in Labor Talks

July 8, 2022

The National Retail Federation has joined the list of trade groups urging President Joseph Biden to appoint a Presidential Emergency Board to make recommendations for ending a contract stalemate between railroad labor and management.

In a letter to Biden dated July 6, the NRF expressed concern that a potential rail strike would adversely affect the nation’s economy by disrupting the supply chain.

Railroad labor unions and management have been negotiating for more than two years for a new contact.

The National Mediation Board oversaw the talks earlier this year, but recently declared the talks to be at impasse and released the parties from further negotiations under Board auspices

Imports Expected to be Near Record Levels

June 11, 2022

The National Retail Federation said this week that imports this summer are expected to be at near record volumes.

The trade group said retailers are importing large quantities of goods to meet consumer demand, including back-to-school supplies.

Factories in China that make some of these goods are ramping up production as COVID-19 lockdown policies have been relaxed.

One potential complication is that a labor agreement with West Coast port workers expires July 1.

NRF port activity figures show estimates of 2.31 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in May, down 0.9 percent from May 2021, the overall second-busiest month on record.

However, the trade group predicts that June will see 2.31 million TEUs, up 7.5 percent year compared with the same month in 2021.

In April, the latest month for which statistics are available, showed U.S. ports handled 2.26 million TEUs, down 3.6 percent from March 2022’s 2.34 million TEUs, which is also the record for the number of containers imported in a single month since NRF began tracking imports in 2002.

July is forecast at 2.3 million TEUs, an increase of 4.8 percent, while August is forecast at 2.28 million TEUs, an increase of 0.2 percent.

All percentage predictions are based on the same month in 2021.

The first six months of 2022 are expected to total 13.5 million TEUs, up 5.3 percent from the same time period in 2021.

Retail Imports Expected to Remain High

February 14, 2022

The National Retail Federation said in a recent report that imports are expected to remain high at U.S. ports through the first half of 2022.

The report said ports won’t see the “dramatic growth” of a year ago but strong consumer demand is expected to keep import volumes steady.

“Last year set a new bar for imports, and the numbers remain high as consumers continue to spend despite COVID-19 and inflation,” said NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold in a news release.

“The slowdown in cargo growth will be welcome as the supply chain continues to try to adapt to these elevated volumes.”

Gold noted that traffic through ports continues to be slow with 40 ships waiting to dock on Feb. 9 at the Port of Los Angeles. Some cargo will sit at a port for up to a month before it is unloaded.

The situation is expected to be exacerbated soon by shutdowns of Asian factories for the Lunar New Year.

U.S. ports covered by the Global Port Tracker are projected to handle 13 million 20-foot equivalent units during the first half of 2022, an increase of 1.5 percent over the same period in 2021.

The report said ports handled 2.09 milion TEUs in December 2021, a decline of 1.2 percent compared with November 2021 and a drop of 1 percent on a year-over-year basis.

Imports Heading for Record Levels

December 10, 2021

The National Retail Federal said this week that it expects 2021 imports to set records for largest volume and fastest growth on record.

The trade group said retail imports for 2021 are expected to total 26 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs), up 18.3 percent over last year and the highest number since NRF began tracking imports in 2002.

If those projections hold up, they would surpass last year’s record of 22 million, a 1.9 percent increase.

In a news release, NRF said the highest growth was 16.7 percent in 2010, when the economy was recovering from the Great Recession of 2008.

NRF officials said that despite double-digit growth of imports, single-month year-over-year growth has remained in the single digits and is expected to stay that way through the first quarter of 2022.

Imports Expected to Remain High for Rest of Year

November 10, 2021

The National Retail Federation reported this week that congestion continues at the nation’s ports as imports continue tat high levels.

It said more than 70 ships were waiting to dock at ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach in California and that imposts are expected to remain at near-record levels for the remainder of the year as retailers seek to stock shelves for the Christmas holiday shopping season.

The trade association said retail volume this year is expected to rise 10.5 percent compared with 2020 figures.

The average wait during the past two months for ships to dock at the Port of Los Angeles has been two weeks. That has created a cascading effect of delaying the arrival of ships at other ports.

Some shipping lines have diverted vessels to other ports, but the NRF report said congestion is building nationwide.

NRF projects that October will prove to be one of the busiest months on record for imports with volume reaching 2.19 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs), although that would be down 1.22 percent from October 2020..

However, NRF officials said 2021 retail numbers are much higher than 2020 due to continued economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first half of 2021 totaled 12.8 million TEUs, up over 35 percent over 2020 levels with the current year expected to surpass the 2020 mark of 22 million TEUs.

Imports Remain at Near Record Levels

October 9, 2021

The National Retail Federation said this week that imports at the largest U.S. retail container ports are expected to remain at near-record levels but could see a slight dip from last year’s unusually high numbers as congestion slows the movement of backed-up cargo.

“The cargo is there for larger gains at several ports but congestion issues are impacting fluid operations,” said NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold.

“Ships will eventually get unloaded but the pressure is on for everyone to work together to get the containers out as quickly as possible.”

The NRF report said the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed the loading of U.S.-bound ships, while shortages of equipment, labor and outbound truck and rail capacity continue to cause congestion at U.S. ports.

Nearly 75 ships were waiting to enter the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, up from around 25 a month earlier. The backups have begun spreading to East Coast ports, too.

U.S. ports covered by NRF’s Global Port Tracker handled 2.27 million twenty-foot equivalent units  in August.

That was up 3.5 percent from July and up 7.8 percent compared with the same period in 2020. It also tied March as the second-busiest month since NRF began tracking imports in 2002.

May remains the busiest month on record at 2.33 million TEUs.