Washington, D.C. Import cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports is expected to be up 16% in September over the same month last year, according to a report released Tuesday by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates. The report noted that 2010 has already hit its peak and numbers will decline through the remainder of the year.
“Retailers have stocked up early on much of their holiday merchandise in order to avoid some of the supply chain disruptions seen earlier in the year,” NRF VP supply chain and customs policy Jonathan Gold said. “Cargo is still coming in, but the key question for sales will be what happens with employment and other factors that affect consumer confidence this fall. Retailers are hoping they’ve hit the right balance of supply and demand.”
U.S. ports handled 1.38 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units in July, the latest month for which actual numbers are available. That was up 5% from June and 25% from July 2009, and it was the eighth month in a row to show a year-over-year improvement after December broke a 28-month streak of year-over-year declines. (One TEU is one 20-ft. cargo container or its equivalent.)
August was estimated at 1.35 million TEU, a 17% increase over last year. September is forecast at 1.32 million TEU, up 16% from last year; October at 1.3 million TEU, up 9%; November at 1.2 million TEU, up 11%; and December at 1.11 million TEU, up 2%.
January 2011 is forecast at 1.06 million TEU, down 2% from January 2010.
While October is the traditional peak month of the annual shipping season as retailers bring in merchandise for the holiday season, July’s figures appear likely to stand as the peak for 2010, according to the report.
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 and Savannah on the East Coast, and Houston on the Gulf Coast.