Retail import cargo volume shows promising signs

After more than two and a half years of year-over-year declines, import cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports is expected to see three straight months of gains in early 2010, according to the monthly Port Tracker report released by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and IHS Global Insight.

“We’ve been seeing hints of a turnaround in our past few reports but this is starting to look like a clear trend,” NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said in a press release from the NRF. “If retailers are starting to import more merchandise, it’s because they expect to be able to sell more, and that’s a good sign for our industry and the overall economy.”

The January figure would mark the 31st month of year-over-year declines, but the trend is forecast to be broken in February.

“The second half of 2009 has seen an improvement with ‘less bad’ year-over-year numbers compared with the first half,” IHS Global Insight Economist Paul Bingham said in the release. “While improving, import container traffic is projected to be weak through March due to the traditional slow season combined with the weak pace of economic recovery.”

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