Major US Ports Predict Holiday Shopping Boom


If shipments into one major U.S. port are any indication, we could be in for a stellar holiday shopping season.


“I think we’re seeing the imported goods and the containers like what you see here obviously filled with holiday items and we’re seeing those in larger numbers,” said Richard Steinke, the executive director of the Port of Long Beach, which sits on a complex alongside the Port of Los Angeles.

Together the ports are responsible for 40-45% percent of all goods coming into the United States.

July figures have not yet been announced, but the Port of Long Beach reported that June 2010 was its busiest month ever, coming off of eight straight months of increases in container volumes.

“We’re still a little cautious about how sustainable it is but from hearing from the retailers and some of the importers it sounds like we’re going to see that sustained business at least through the end of this year,” Steinke said, responding to the idea that this could be a byproduct of companies restocking their inventories and taking advantage of cheap goods, rather than a sign of economic recovery.

Shipping ports like this one are often a barometer of demand for durable goods — whether imports or exports — and seen as a leading indicator for retail salesand international trade.

Ports as Barometer

“You’re going to see agricultural products that really start to move in greater quantities, in larger numbers, and that really benefits those consumers, and it really improves the balance of trade,” Steinke said in relation to Asian exports starting to catch up with imports.

“The higher value exports are now moving to those nations as opposed to waste paper, scrap hay, cotton and those kind of low value items,” Steinke said, telling CNBC’s Worldwide Exchange that 60% of goods coming into his port are from China.

“We’re starting to see more more valuable items which basically increases or improves the balance of trade.”