Import cargo volume at the nation's major retail container ports is expected to be up 8 percent in April compared with the same month a year ago, and solid increases are expected to continue through the summer as the U.S. economy improves, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released today by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.
"Retail sales are starting to improve and retailers are importing merchandise in the quantities they need to meet that demand," says Jonathan Gold, NRF vice president for supply chain and customs policy. "We expect these numbers to continue to climb as merchants and their customers move away from the recession and back toward normal shopping habits."
U.S. ports handled 1.01 million TEUs in February, the latest month for which actual numbers are available. That was down 6 percent from January as shipping hit its traditional slow point for the year but up 20 percent from the unusually low numbers seen during February 2009. It was also the third month in a row to show a year-over-year improvement after December broke a 28-month streak of year-over-year monthly declines.
March was estimated at 1.02 million TEUs, a 6-percent increase over last year as spring products began to head for store shelves. April is forecast at 1.07 million TEUs, up 8 percent from last year; May at 1.12 million TEUs, up 7 percent; June at 1.18 million TEUs, up 17 percent; July at 1.24 million TEUs, up 12 percent; and August at 1.32 million TEUs, up 15 percent.
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