Is Anyone Shipping Christmas Orders?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009 13:14
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Over the last 24 hours, I have been having a bit of a back and forth on email with a analyst in the US who sent me a relatively upbeat report on US inbound shipments:

Specifically, from July to August, there was a 1% increase in the number of U.S. companies receiving shipments from overseas. A bellweather sign that the economy is holding steady prior to the usual holiday flux. Over the last several months, we’ve seen a slow but steady recovery of global trade activity.

It was one of those reports that at first glance looked like there was some stability to be reported, and that right now, stability was good. However, in reading this article I also took note of the fact that this is the time of year when Christmas orders should be hitting the various global logistics systems… and so I responded to his email.. and kicked off a dialogue:

Rich: Question –what was the August number? Also, do you happen to know what happened with container volume numbers for that same period?

Analyst:

August = 86,686
July = 86,570

These numbers reflect all sea shipments from “significant manufacturers,” meaning companies that have sent 10 or more shipments to American customers within the last year. As of the end of August, there were 86,686 significant manufacturers

Rich: How does that compare to 2006… because the way I am reading it, something is still very wrong. August – September should be dramatically higher than July from Christmas shipments. Shipments none of my friends here in China say are occurring. So… should we say that things are holding steady? Or, is the fact that Christmas shipments being missing indicate that perhaps we should be looking at this in a different way?

Analyst:Don’t have data from 06, but in 07, July-to-August saw a drop of 1%. September / October shipments will be a better indicator of what corporate buyers are expecting from the holiday season. Our interactions suggest corporate buyers are being cautious.

I’m not worried, but I’m also not expecting a major jump for the holidays.

Which leaves me to ask… is anyone ordering anything for Christmas? Are US consumers going to buy?

Or are we just looking at year of regifted presents and fruit cakes?

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