Retail container imports expected to rise 4.8% in June

Import cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports is expected to increase 4.8% in June compared with the same month last year, and year-over-year increases are expected to continue into the holiday season shipping cycle, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.

“Retail sales have seen 22 straight months of year-over-year sales increases, and these import projections suggest retailers should see growth into the two-year mark and beyond,” NRF VP for supply chain and customs policy Jonathan Gold said. “Cargo numbers don’t correlate directly into sales numbers, but they are an indicator of how much retailers think they can sell.”

U.S. ports followed by Global Port Tracker handled 1.23 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) in April, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was 3.9% from March and 1.5% from April 2011. (One TEU is one 20-ft. cargo container or its equivalent.)

May was estimated at 1.29 million TEU, up 0.5% from a year ago, and June is forecast at 1.31 million TEU, up 4.8% from the same time last year. July is forecast at 1.36 million TEU, up 2.5%; August at 1.42 million TEU, up 7.3%; September at 1.45 million TEU, up 9%, and October at 1.53 million TEU, up 19.9% over unusually low numbers last year.

The first half of 2012 should total 7.3 million TEU, up 2% from the same period last year. The total for 2011 was 14.8 million TEU, up 0.4% from 2010’s 14.75 million TEU.

Global Port Tracker, which is produced for NRF by the consulting firm Hackett Associates, covers the U.S. ports of Long Angeles/Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle and Tacoma on the West Coast; New York/New Jersey, Hampton Roads, Charleston and Savannah on the East Coast, and Houston on the Gulf Coast.

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