Signs of a scorching summer are apparent all around the U.S.: wilting crops in the grain belt, wildfires in Colorado, and record-high imports of air conditioners. U.S. imports of window AC units hit a 3-year high in March 2012 at $255 million, or 1.8 million units. April 2012 saw the next highest number of imports of the past three years, at $253 million. See Panjiva’s full report on window AC units.
These trends suggest that many U.S. importers predicted an unusually hot summer back in January. Products transported via ocean freight, like AC units, typically take 30-45 days to ship from Asia to the U.S. (China supplies nearly all of America’s window air conditioners). Thus, an import spike in March means that orders probably spiked in mid to late-January.
Air conditioners aren’t the only imports rising with the summer heat. Indoor fan imports also hit a 3-year high in 2012, with $163 million imported in April. That’s almost 10% higher than the next highest month, May 2009. See Panjiva’s full report on indoor fans.
The word from the Panjiva research team: trade activity was steady in June. Specifically, the number of waterborne shipments coming into the U.S. experienced a 2% month-over-month increase from May to June. Previous year’s May to June changes: -1% in 2011, +2% in 2010, -2% in 2009, -5% in 2008.
The number of global manufacturers shipping to the U.S. went up ever so slightly — +0.4% — from May to June. May-to-June changes in previous years: -1% in 2011, +1% in 2010, -1% in 2009, and -2% in 2008.
- The percentage of significant manufacturers on the Panjiva Watch List went up from 18% to 19%.
- The percentage of significant buyers having done business with a Panjiva Watch List supplier in the preceding three months also went up from 25% to 26%.
- Manufacturers that have suffered a 50% or greater decline in volume shipped to American customers in the most recent three month period, versus the same period a year ago, are on the Panjiva Watch List.
- “Significant manufacturers” are companies that have sent 10 or more shipments to American customers within the last year. As of the end of June, there were 95,939 significant manufacturers.
- “Significant buyers” are U.S. companies that have received 10 or more shipments from overseas manufacturers within the last year. As of the end of June, there were 82,489 significant buyers.