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Report: U.S. Retail to Fall Significantly in First Half of 2009

10 Feb, 2009 By: Erik Gruenwedel

The cargo volume of retail products arriving from overseas (imports) at major U.S. ports is expected to drop 11.8% during the first six months of 2009, indicative of the worsening domestic economic landscape, according to the National Retail Foundation.

Volume for the first six months of 2009 is forecast at 6.6 million 20-foot-equivalent units (TEU), compared to 7.5 million TEU during the same period in 2008. A TEU is one 20-foot container or its equivalent.

Final data for 2008 showed cargo volume for the year at 15.2 million TEU, compared with 16.5 million TEU in 2007, a decline of 7.9% and the lowest total since 2004, when 14 million TEU moved through the ports.

“Unfortunately, cargo volume at the ports reflects retailers’ anticipated sales, and [we] expect that sales will get worse before they get better,” said Jonathan Gold, VP for supply chain and customs policy at the NRF. “Retailers are only going to import what they can sell.”

The U.S. imported more than $1.9 trillion in goods from foreign countries (spearheaded by China) in 2007, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.


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