Imports at the major US retail container ports saw a larger than expected increase during the industry’s busy holiday season, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and consulting firm Hackett Associates.
Ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.64 million TEU in November, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was down 1.6 percent from October since most imported holiday merchandise had already arrived but up 11.2 percent from November 2015. Global Port Tracker had previously predicted a year-over-year increase of 3.6 percent, according to NRF.
December was estimated at 1.54 million TEU, up 7 percent year-over-year rather than 3.2 percent that had been expected.
Cargo volume for 2016 was estimated at 18.8 million TEU, up 2.9 percent from 2015.
January is forecast at 1.57 million TEU, up 5.7 percent from January 2016. However, February volumes are expected to stand at 1.52 million TEU, down 1.5 percent from last year.
“There is both optimism and pessimism and pointers showing growth as well as decline,” Ben Hackett, Hackett Associates Founder, said.
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. In addition, Global Port Tracker encompasses ports of New York/New Jersey, Hampton Roads, Charleston, Savannah, Port Everglades and Miami on the East Coast, and Houston on the Gulf Coast.