NRF: Imports at US Container Ports to See Strong Rise in Spring, Summer

Image Courtesy: Port of Los Angeles

Imports at US major retail container ports should continue to increase throughout the spring and summer, according to the new monthly Global Port Tracker report published by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.

The rise is attributed to the improvement of the nation’s economy.

“Our view that imports will continue to be stable despite the uncertainties of the new administration’s trade policies remains unchanged,” Ben Hackett, Hackett Associates Founder, said.

“Despite pre-election promises, there has been little real change in trade policy so far and little change is expected for the greater part of the year,” he added.

Ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.43 million TEUs in February, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was a drop of 14.3 percent from January as many Asian factories shut down for Lunar New Year, and down 7 percent from the same month a year ago. Coming after the winter holidays and before retailers stock up for summer, February was historically the slowest month of the year for imports.

What is more, March was estimated at 1.61 million TEU, up 21.5 percent from unusually low numbers last year. April is forecast at 1.59 million TEU, up 10.3 percent from last year; May at 1.68 million TEU, up 3.5 percent and June at 1.66 million TEU, up 5.3 percent. Additionally, July is forecast at 1.71 million TEU, up 5.1 percent, and August at 1.74 million TEU, up 1.6 percent.

These numbers would bring the first half of 2017 to a total of 9.6 million TEU, up 7.3 percent from the same period of 2016.

Cargo volume for 2016 totaled 18.8 million TEU, up 3.1 percent from 2015, which had grown 5.4 percent from 2014.

“Consumers are spending more, and these import numbers show that retailers expect that to continue for a significant period. This is a clear sign that the economy has long-term momentum regardless of month-to-month fluctuations. Whether it’s merchandise for store shelves or parts for U.S. factories, imports play a vital role in American prosperity,” Jonathan Gold, NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy, commented.

Global Port Tracker, which is produced for NRF by Hackett Associates, covers the US ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle and Tacoma on the West Coast. Additionally, Global Port Tracker includes ports of New York/New Jersey, Hampton Roads, Charleston, Savannah, Port Everglades and Miami on the East Coast, and Houston on the Gulf Coast.

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