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Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: A container in every port?

November 24, 2009

port1Check out the expected increase early next year in import cargo volume at U.S. retail container ports.

The numbers could rise year-over-year in February, for the first increase in more than two years, according to the monthly Port Tracker report released by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and IHS Global Insight.

“This could be the turnaround we’ve been waiting to see for a long time,” NRF Vice President Jonathan Gold said in a statement. “There’s not enough data yet to establish a clear trend, but we’re hopeful that this is a sign of recovery.”

U.S. ports surveyed handled 1.14 million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEU) in September, the most-recent month for which actual numbers are available. That was down 3 percent from August and 16 percent from September 2008.

Volume for October, traditionally the peak month of the year, was estimated at 1.17 million TEU, down 15 percent from last year, according to the survey. November, December and January are forecast to be down 11 percent, flat and down 3 percent, respectively.

However, February, the slowest month of the year, is forecast to report cargo of 973,872 TEU, which would be a 16 percent increase over February 2009, while March is expected to show a 5 percent increase at 1.02 million TEU, according to the survey.

“The second half of 2009 has continued to see declines from 2008′s levels, but not as large as we saw during the first half of this year,” IHS Global economist Paul Bingham said. “These ‘less bad’ numbers are evidence that the industry is seeing early signs of recovery.”

Also in the basket:

Heinz profit falls, raises full-year view

Zale posts wider loss on weak jewelry demand

Hormel 4th-qtr profit jumps despite sales decline

American Eagle posts in-line 3rd qtr profit

Dollar Tree profit beats estimates

Carl’s Jr. restaurants serving Coke’s vitaminwater

(Reuters photo)

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