The fourth-largest container gateway in North America, the Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA) witnessed its year-to-date volumes increase by 7 percent.
Full import volumes for the six-month period ended June 30 were up 7 percent to 694,175 TEUs, while full exports grew 2 percent to 476,745 TEUs. At the same time, international container volume, including empties, increased 10 percent to 1,477,870 TEUs.
During the month of June total container volumes for the gateway declined 1 percent. Full imports for the month declined 10 percent to 115,788 TEUs compared to last year, while exports were down 15 percent to 73,916 TEUs for the month. Empty exports grew 60 percent as ocean carriers continue to reposition containers to Asia in preparation for peak season.
Total domestic volumes for the month declined 3 percent compared to the same period a year earlier. Alaska’s year-to-date volumes are down 8 percent and are expected to end the year 5 to 6 percent lower due to soft market conditions. Hawaii volumes through the Pacific Northwest declined 3 percent due to diversion to Southern California.
Driven by consistent demand from China, log volumes continue to grow, according to NWSA. They were up 138 percent to 159,704 metric tons over the same time last year. Breakbulk cargo was down 1 percent, to 93,257 metric tons year to date, due to soft market conditions, while autos, at 74,489 units year-to-date, were down 17 percent compared to the same period last year, reflecting weakening U.S. demand and shifting manufacturing locations.
The US National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates recently projected in its June – October forecast that imports are expected to continue their strong growth trend.
Namely, July and August should be two of the busiest months ever seen for imports at US major retail container ports, possibly setting a new record, according to NRF.
July is forecast at 1.71 million TEUs, up 5.1 percent from last year, while ports could see 1.75 million TEUs in August, up 2.2 percent. Additionally, NRF forecast September at 1.66 million TEU, up 4.3 percent; October at 1.71 million TEU, up 2.2 percent, and November at 1.6 million TEU, down 2.7 percent from last year.