Retail container traffic to be up 11% in March

Washington, D.C. -- A report released Monday by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates said that import cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports is expected to be up 11% in March, as compared with the same month last year.

The monthly Global Port Tracker indicated that the U.S. ports it follows handled 1.2 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units in January, the latest month for which actual numbers are available. That was up 5% from December and 12% from January 2010. It was the fourteenth month in a row to show a year-over-year improvement after December 2009 broke a 28-month streak of year-over-year declines. One TEU is one 20-ft. cargo container or its equivalent.

“These numbers show solid increases over last year and are evidence that our nation’s economic recovery is continuing to build momentum,” NRF VP supply chain and customs policy Jonathan Gold said. “Increases in imports are a clear sign that retailers expect sales to continue to climb in the next several months.”

February, traditionally the slowest month of the year, was estimated at 1.12 million TEU, which would represent an increase of 12% over February 2010. March is forecast at 1.19 million TEU, up 11% from a year ago; April at 1.24 million TEU, up 9%; May at 1.32 million TEU, up 5%; June at 1.39 million TEU, up 5%; and July at 1.45 million TEU, up 5%.

The first half of 2011 is forecast at 7.5 million TEU, up 9% from the first half of 2010. For the full year, 2010 totaled 14.7 million TEU, a 16% increase over 2009.

Last year’s percentages were high because 2009’s 12.7 million TEU was the lowest level seen since 2003.

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