Stronger Holiday Season Predicted for 2012

Imports Are Up

Back-to-school shopping is the activity that is most prevalent for consumers at this time of the year. It’s difficult to even imagine in August and September what might occur in retail sales for the upcoming holidays in October, November and December. Yet National Retail Federation’s Global Port Tracker Report shows some interesting trends in imports for August, September and October that could be a prediction of what’s to come.

August, September and October are the three key months in which retailers import most of the merchandise that they hope to sell during the holidays. Generally, when import numbers are higher, expected sales for the season are also higher. When import numbers drop, retail sales are expected to be lower, so stores will not stock as much inventory, anticipating lower retail sales.

This year, imports during this time period are expected to be higher than last year. August imports are expected to be up 6.3 percent, September up 7.3 percent and October up 13.2 percent for an overall average of 8.9 percent increase from last year.

One thing to keep in mind, however, is that the Port Tracker counts only the number of cargo containers coming into the country, not the value of the merchandise inside the containers. Regardless, the count gives us some indication as to what retailers are thinking. Would you import more merchandise than you anticipate selling?

Import count is only one of the methods used to predict holiday sales, but generally speaking, if imports are up, sales are up. Good news for retailers!

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