Retail container traffic shows gains

Washington, D.C. A report released late Monday by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates found that import cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports ended a nearly two-and-a-half-year streak of year-over-year declines in December and is on track to show gains through the first half of 2010.

“These numbers are a clear sign that retailers are optimistic about 2010,” NRF VP supply chain and customs policy Jonathan Gold said. “Retailers are still going to be cautious with their inventories, but we wouldn’t see these increases in imports if stores weren’t expecting sales to improve.”

U.S. ports handled 1.09 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units in November, the latest month for which actual numbers are available. That was down 8% from October, traditionally the busiest month of the year, and 10% from November 2008. One TEU is one 20-ft. container or its equivalent.

The November number marked the 28th month in a row to show a decrease from the same month a year earlier. But the trend was broken in December, which was estimated at 1.08 million TEU, down slightly from November as the holiday season came to a close but a 1.7% increase over December 2008.

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