Earlier this month, Supply Chain Matters featured a commentary focused on predictions of upcoming holiday sales. Our commentary referenced the latest forecast from the National Retail Federation (NRF) indicating that holiday sales in the coming quarter are expected to increase 4.1 percent, which in monetary terms, represents the largest rise in holiday sales in the past three years. We further noted an interview on business network CNBC featuring the NRF chief economist indicating that the 4.1 percent may be on the low-end, considering the current trend toward lower gasoline prices and increased employment in the U.S…
A new data point is a recent joint release from both the NRF and Hackett Associates that forecasts ocean container shipments will rise 6.4 percent in October, compared to last year’s monthly volume. The report does caution that August and September port volumes saw modest increases. A report published by The Wall Street Journal interpreted this latest container data prediction as an indicator of more confidence on the part of retailers to bring-in additional holiday sales inventory.
For curiosity, we re-visited the port container volumes for the Port of Los Angeles for the periods of July through September, which is traditional high volume inbound period, contrasting TEU volumes in 2013, vs those this year. Indeed, for the three months, 2014 TEU inbound load volumes this year are trending up roughly 6 percent from 2013 levels. That is in the backdrop of the continued uncertainty of a potential port labor stoppage as union labor talks have continued since labor contract suspension earlier in summer. Therefore, if October inbound container volume trends even higher, as indicated by NRF’s forecast, than perhaps retailers have indeed become more optimistic.
We would appreciate hearing from Sales and Operations planners and procurement professionals residing within retail and wholesale supply chains.
We have added a Supply Chain Matters interactive polling question: (Located on the lower portion of our right-hand panel) Is your organization planning increased inventory levels, relative to 2013, to support expected 2014 holiday sales? The poll is anonymous and will provide trending results. Let’s all see what those closest to the action indicate. We will run this poll for the next three weeks.
Like many of you, we will also closely monitor inbound container stats for October.
In the meantime, let’s all observe and best wishes in the upcoming 10 weeks of craziness.