The West Coast Longshoremen’s Contract is still under negotiation, but retailers continue to import merchandise into the US at above-average rates in order to be ready for the holiday shopping season. Retailers want to make sure that consumer demand during the holidays is met, so they are shipping products to alternative ports.
Import volume at U.S. ports is expected to total 1.47 million containers this month, according to a report issued by Global Port Tracker. This is down from the all-time monthly record of 1.53 million set in August as retailers imported merchandise early in case of any disruption on the docks. September has averaged 1.42 million containers over the past five years.
The contract between the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union expired on July 1, prompting concerns about potential disruptions that could affect back-to-school or holiday merchandise. A tentative agreement on health benefits was announced in August but both sides are continuing to negotiate on other issues as dockworkers remain on the job.
The National Retail Federation is forecasting a sales growth of 3.6 percent in 2014. While cargo volume does not correlate directly with sales numbers, it is still a good measure of forecasting retail sales expectations.
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