August through October typically marks the highest annual shipping point, with volumes reflecting the U.S. import of goods to stock store shelves for the holidays. A growing field of research analysts, industry observers and even shipping executives are predicting a slowdown in growth deeper into the year after a strong rebound in shipping volume in the second quarter.
The first half of the year has been one of double-digit growth for cargo, as retailers finally restocked shelves and shippers, nervous about potential capacity shortages, decided to move their holiday season goods earlier than usual, shifting the annual peak shipping season to July.
As August comes to a close, however, PIERS Global Intelligence Solutions, a sister company to The Journal of Commerce, expects year-to-year growth in container imports to cool from as estimated 17.6 percent rate in the second quarter to 7.8 percent in the third quarter and 1.4 percent in the fourth quarter.
Unemployment, tight credit and underwater mortgages, are expected to continue to hurt import volumes in the months ahead.
"No one seems to be predicting a slump to the volumes of 2009," says the story. “While consumer spending generates 70 percent of U.S. economic activity, economists note container volumes also include industrial components and foodstuffs with limited sensitivity to consumer demand."