Import cargo volumes bound for U.S. retailers to remain low through the summer

According to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released by the National Retail Federation (NRF), import cargo volume at the United States’ major retail container ports is expected to be mostly down through the summer but should see a significant uptick just before the winter holiday season.

“The unusual patterns seen last year in the aftermath of the West Coast ports slowdown are continuing to make valid year-over-year comparisons difficult,” NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. “Retailers are balancing imports with existing inventories but consumers can expect to see plenty of merchandise on the shelves for both back-to-school and the holidays.”

Ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.44 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units in April, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was up 9.1 percent from March but down 4.6 percent in April 2015. One TEU is one 20-foot-long cargo container or its equivalent.

May was estimated at 1.54 million TEU, down 4.2 percent from the same month last year. June is forecast to also be 1.54 million TEU, down 1.9 percent from last year; July at 1.62 million TEU, up 0.2 percent; August at 1.63 million TEU, down 3 percent; September at 1.57 million TEU, down 3.5 percent, and October at 1.61 million TEU, up 3.4 percent.

The first half of 2016 is expected to total 8.9 million TEU, up 0.3 percent from the same period in 2015. Total volume for 2015 was 18.2 million TEU, up 5.4 percent from 2014.

Global Port Tracker, which is produced for NRF by the consulting firm Hackett Associates, covers the U.S. ports of Los 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.

Source: NRF

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