Import cargo volume at U.S. major retail container ports is expected to rise 8 % this month over the same period last year as West Coast ports continue to recover from a cargo backlog that built up during labour contract talks, shows monthly Global Port Tracker report released by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.
Ports covered by the report handled 1.2 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEU) in February, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available and historically the slowest month of the year. That was down 10.3 percent from January and down 3.6 percent from February 2014.
March was estimated at 1.48 million TEU, up 13.5 percent from 2014. April is forecast at 1.55 million TEU, up 8 percent from last year; May at 1.57 million TEU, up 5.6 percent; June at 1.54 million TEU, up 4.3 percent; July at 1.58 million TEU, up 5.6 percent, and August at 1.61 million TEU, up 5.7 percent.
“Progress is being made but there’s still a lot of cargo waiting to be loaded onto trucks and trains and moved across the country even after it’s unloaded from the ships,” NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. “The situation is getting better but we’re still far from normal.”
The Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union tentatively agreed on a five-year contract in February. While ILWU leadership has recommended that members vote for ratification, votes won’t be counted until May 22.
“The disruption on the West Coast appears to be over and great measures are being taken to clear the backlog of ships sitting offshore,” Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett said. “Of course, all those ships being discharged are causing landside issues as workers try to get containers out of the terminal gates and onto trucks and rail.”
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.