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Container imports expected to rise almost 10%

BY Brae Canlen

As retailers stock up for the holiday season, import cargo volumes at the nation’s major ports are expected to rise 9.9% in October, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released by the National Retail Federation (NFR) and Hackett Associates.

“NRF’s annual forecast says retailers should see solid growth during the holiday season this year, and these cargo numbers back it up,” said Jonathan Gold, VP supply chain and customs policy for the NRF.  “Increased imports show that retailers have gauged the market and expect increased sales.”

U.S. ports followed by Global Port Tracker handled 1.42 million twenty-foot equivalent units in August, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was up 6.7% from July and 3.3% from August 2011. One TEU is one 20-foot cargo container or its equivalent. September was estimated at 1.49 million TEU, up 8% from last year, and October is forecast at 1.45 million TEU, a 9.9% rise. 

With most holiday merchandise already at least in distribution centers by the end of October, monthly cargo volume will drop off for the remainder of the year but will remain above 2011 levels, the report said.

Hackett Associates founder Ben Hackett noted that some retailers brought cargo into the country early because of the threat of a strike when the labor contract covering East Coast and Gulf Coast longshoremen was set to expire Sept. 30. The strike was averted when labor and management agreed to continue talks through Dec. 31. 

“Inventories are up, which could be due to lack of demand, but it could also be due to pre-stocking in anticipation of the dock strike that didn’t come,” Hackett said. “Either way, it is within a narrow range of movement and it does not suggest that we are sliding into another recession.” 

Global Port Tracker, which is produced for NRF by the consulting firm Hackett Associates, covers the U.S. ports of Long Angeles/Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle and Tacoma on the West Coast; New York/New Jersey, Hampton Roads, Charleston, Savannah, Port Everglades and Miami on the East Coast; and Houston on the Gulf Coast.

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Lancaster makes executive moves

BY Brae Canlen

Lancaster, the paint sundries distributor, has made some executive moves.

Tom Daniels has joined the company in the newly created position of VP sales for the Northeast. He will be responsible for the direct management of the Lancaster sales team and business development for the Northeast market.  

The company also appointed Steve Amaral as its new territory manager covering southeast Massachusetts, Cape Cod and Rhode Island. 

Amaral comes to Lancaster with more than 25 years of sales experience with such companies as American Paint Distributors, Babel Paint, White Lightning, Duckback and more recently Akzo Nobel.

Based in Spartanburg, S.C., Lancaster operates distribution centers in California, Florida, Kentucky, New Jersey, South Carolina and Texas. The company serves more than 10,000 independent paint stores, regional paint store chains, national paint store chains, hardware stores and lumberyards.

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Foreclosures continue on downward trend

BY Brae Canlen

A just-released report by CoreLogic, an information and analytics provider, indicates that U.S. foreclosure inventory is at its lowest level since April 2010. But five states still account for almost 50% of all completed foreclosures nationally.

According to the report, there were 57,000 completed foreclosures in the United States in August 2012, down from 75,000 in August 2011 and 58,000 in July 2012. Approximately 1.3 million homes, or 3.2% of all homes with a mortgage, were in the national foreclosure inventory as of August 2012, compared with 1.4 million, or 3.4%, in August 2011.

"The continuing downward trend in foreclosures and a gradual clearing of the shadow inventory are important signals that the recovery in housing is gaining traction," said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. "The reduction in foreclosure volumes is to some degree being facilitated by the rising popularity of alternative resolution methods, such as short sales and loan modifications."

Month-over-month, the national foreclosure inventory was unchanged from July 2012 to August 2012. The foreclosure inventory is the share of all mortgaged homes in any stage of the foreclosure process.

"August marks the fourth month in a row there were fewer completed foreclosures, which is more evidence that the housing industry is finding its footing," said Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic. "While we are seeing improvement on a national level, there remain higher concentrations of foreclosures in some areas, with five states accounting for nearly half of all completed foreclosures nationwide during the last year."

The five states with the highest number of completed foreclosures for the 12 months ending in August 2012 were: California (110,000), Florida (92,000), Michigan (62,000), Texas (58,000) and Georgia (55,000). These five states account for 48.1% of all completed foreclosures nationally.

The five states with the lowest number of completed foreclosures for the 12 months ending in August 2012 were: South Dakota (25), District of Columbia (113), Hawaii (435), North Dakota (564) and Maine (612).

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