Inbound container traffic at the Port of Los Angeles fell 10.2 percent in June compared with a year earlier, a pretty good indication of supply disruptions due to the Japanese earthquake. Outbound traffic was up 5.5 percent. The Port of Long Beach also showed a slowdown in traffic last month. We keep hearing that the situation in Japan is improving, so presumably these container numbers will get better - just as we're being told that auto inventories in the U.S. are improving. It's a very big deal, considering that the two ports account for 40 percent of U.S. inbound container traffic. But this isn't just about cars and earthquakes. From MarketWatch:
The National Retail Federation said earlier this week that it expects the overall volume of imported retail goods to be flat to down slightly from June through August at major U.S. retail container ports, although it forecast a significant increase in the fall. "With the economy facing continuing challenges, retailers are managing their inventory levels carefully," Jonathan Gold, the group's vice president for supply chain and customs policy, said in a prepared statement. "But the increases in import volume expected this fall are a clear sign that retailers are confident consumer demand will be there in the fourth quarter," he said.