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Retail Container Traffic Falls

Washington D.C. Year-over-year cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports fell for the 16th consecutive month in November, leaving 2008 on track to be the slowest year since 2004, according to the monthly Port Tracker report released by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and IHS Global Insight.

Volume is projected to total 15.3 million 20-ft. equivalent units (TEU) for the year, compared with 16.5 million TEU in 2007. That would be a decline of 7.1% and the lowest total since 2004, when 14 million TEU moved through the ports. The projection for the year is the same as last month after growing from a 6% drop forecast in September and 6.5% drop forecast in October.

“As retailers face the most challenging holiday season in years, they are being careful with their inventory levels, and that means lower volume at the ports,” NRF VP for supply chain and customs policy Jonathan Gold said. “Cargo volume isn’t a direct correlation with dollar volume of sales, but it’s a good indication of what retailers are thinking.”

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