Import volume is expected to increase 12.4% in March as retailers begin to stock up for the spring and the summer season, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released today by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates.
“Retailers are bouncing back from the annual post-holiday slowdown and getting ready for the surge in activity that comes each year as the weather warms up. Shelves are going to be well-stocked with everything from bathing suits to barbecues,” says vice president for supply chain and customs policy Jonathan Gold. “Congestion has been a problem for many ports during this slowdown, so operations will need to improve to handle the expected surge in the coming months,” adds Gold.
The import numbers come as NRF is forecasting 4.1% sales growth in 2014, contingent on how Washington policies on economic issues affect consumer confidence. “At the end of the day, it all depends on consumption,” observes Hackett Associates founder Ben Hackett. “We cannot escape the basic tenant of economics that demand determines growth or weakness. Somehow, the average consumer needs to be given the economic confidence to go out and spend. Without that, the economy will remain weak and no amount of tinkering by the Federal Reserve will have much of an impact,” he believes.