Now that the holiday shopping season is over, import cargo volume at the nation's major retail container ports is expected to be nearly flat in January compared to January 2011.
However, significant year-over-year increases are expected for the spring, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report.

January 2012 is forecast at 1.21 million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEU), which is up one-tenth of 1% from last year. February, typically he slowest month of the year, is forecast at 1.06 million TEU, which is down 3.3% from 2011. March is forecast to be up 10.5% from last year, April up 3.8% and May up 0.9%.

The total for 2011 was estimated 14.86 million TEU, up 0.7 percent from 2010's 14.75 million TEU.

"We're headed into the slow season for cargo shipments, but forecasts indicate that retailers will be stocking up this spring in anticipation of a moderate recovery as the year progresses," says Jonathan Gold, National Retail Federation vice president for supply chain and customs policy. "Cargo volume doesn't translate directly into sales volume, but when retailers import more it's because they expect to sell more."