NRF: US Import Volumes Drop from Last Year’s Records
Import cargo volume at major retail container ports in the US is expected to be at some of its highest levels ever during the next few months despite a falloff from last year’s record-setting numbers, according to the Global Port Tracker report from the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.
“Retailers are importing less merchandise than last year but these are still some of the highest numbers we’ve ever seen,” NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said.
“Carefully managing imports will balance out high inventory levels but consumers can still expect to see a deep and broad selection of products.”
Ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.32 million TEUs in March, down 14.2 percent from February, partly because of a carryover from Chinese New Year factory closings. It was also down by 23.7 percent from the all-time record high set in March 2015 after a new contract with dockworkers ended a near-shutdown at US West Coast ports and brought a flood of backlogged cargo through the ports.
April was estimated at 1.5 million TEU, down 0.8 percent from the same month last year, when 2015’s unusual pattern of cargo volumes started to stabilize.
May is forecast at 1.57 million TEU, down 2.7 percent from last year; June at 1.56 million TEU, down 0.8 percent; July at 1.61 million TEU, down 0.6 percent; August at 1.62 million TEU, down 3.7 percent, and September at 1.56 million TEU, down 3.9 percent.
The first half of 2016 is expected to total 9 million TEU, up 1.4 percent from the same period in 2015.
The decreased imports reflect both high inventory levels and slow growth in consumer spending in recent months, according to Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett, as “consumer spending is still growing but not as fast as in the past.”
Global Port Tracker 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.