NRF: Imports at Top US Container Ports to Hit New Monthly, Annual Records

August is expected to be the busiest month on record for imports at the US major retail container ports and 2017 is on track to set a new annual high, according to the new monthly Global Port Tracker report released by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates.

The rise is attributed to the continuing sales growth.

“Retailers are selling more and that means they need to import more,” Jonathan Gold, NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy, said.

“With sales showing year-over-year increases almost every month for a long time now, retail supply chains are working hard to keep up. These latest numbers are a good sign of what retailers expect in terms of consumer demand over the next few months,” Gold added.

Ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.69 million TEUs in June, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was down 2 percent from May but up 7.5 percent from June 2016.

July was estimated at 1.72 million TEU, up 5.6 percent from the same time last year.

August is forecast at 1.75 million TEU, up 2.1 percent from last year. That would be the highest monthly volume recorded since NRF began tracking imports in 2000, topping the 1.73 million TEU seen in March 2015. The 1.7 million-plus numbers seen in May and July and now expected for August and October would represent four of the six busiest months in the report’s history.

September is forecast at 1.67 million TEU, up 4.7 percent from last year, October at 1.72 million TEU, up 3 percent, November at 1.62 million TEU, down 1.4 percent, and December at 1.59 million TEU, up 1.5 percent.

Those numbers would bring 2017 to a total of 19.7 million TEU, topping last year’s previous record of 18.8 million TEU by 4.9 percent. That compares with 2016’s 3.1 percent increase over 2015. While July numbers are not yet final, the first half of 2017 tentatively totaled 9.7 million TEU, up 7.4 percent from the same period in 2016, according to NRF.

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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