The Port of L.A. handled 731,000 containers during the month, which is an all-time record but not much better than the results in 2011. Inbound traffic rose just 2.7 percent compared with a year earlier and outbound increased 0.45 percent. At the Port of Long Beach, inbound activity was down 9.1 percent and outbound was off 0.8 percent. Port officials have said that growth is expected to pick up later this year when three new lines of vessels begin using the facility. Meanwhile, the National Retail Federation's Global Port Tracker continues to expect solid traffic at the major container ports. From release:
"Consumers are spending despite gas prices and other economic concerns, so retailers are stocking up to meet the demand," says Jonathan Gold, vice president for supply chain and customs policy for NRF. "These numbers show imports growing through the back-to-school season and even into the beginning of the shipping cycle for the holiday season. That's a sign that retailers are expecting a good year."
The annual guessing game of what and how much consumers will be buying in the fall is especially tough in 2012, what with the economic uncertainty around the world. Still, retailers have become more adept at hedging their bets than they were 10 and 20 years ago, when sales miscalculations would result in huge amounts of unsold merchandise.