Import cargo volume at the US’ major retail container ports should be at near-peak levels this month even as retailers work to cope with the Hanjin Shipping bankruptcy, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released today by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.
“Hanjin should not significantly affect volume for the month since alternative arrangements to unload those containers or shift cargo elsewhere should be dealt with by the time the numbers are tallied,” NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. “But millions of dollars worth of merchandise is in limbo at the moment, and retailers are working hard to make sure it ends up on store shelves in time for the holidays.”
Ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.63 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units in July, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was up 3.2 percent from June and up 0.7 percent from July 2015. One TEU is one 20-foot-long cargo container or its equivalent.
August was estimated at 1.67 million TEU, down 0.4 percent from last year, and is expected to have been the busiest month of the annual shipping-cycle buildup to the holiday shopping season. September is forecast at 1.62 million TEU, down 0.2 percent from last year; October at 1.63 million TEU, up 5.3 percent from last year; November at 1.53 million TEU, up 3.8 percent, and December at 1.49 million TEU, up 3.6 percent.
Those numbers should bring 2016 to a total of 18.6 million TEU, up 1.8 percent from last year. Total volume for 2015 was 18.2 million TEU, up 5.4 percent from 2014. The first half of 2016 totaled 9 million TEU, up 1.6 percent from the same period in 2015.
January 2017 is forecast at 1.53 million TEU, up 2.8 percent from January 2016.
“Despite the apparent slowdown in economic activity being reported around the world, the volume of imports continues to grow slowly, much along the lines that we have been projecting,” Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett said.