U.S. containerized goods imports rose to unexpected levels this summer and could hit record highs in the coming months if retailers continue to build up stockpiles in anticipation of the winter vacations.
This is what the monthly Global Port Tracker report of the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates reveals. It points out that in July containerized imports into major U.S. ports were up by 19.3% compared to the previous month.
Overall, 1.92 million TEUs were handled. Volumes have been falling 2.3% per year but they were up by almost 1/5 compared to June, when the throughput had been1.76 million TEUs.
The U.S. ports covered by Global Port Tracker are: Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle, Tacoma, New York-New Jersey, Virginia, Charleston, Savannah, Everglades, Miami, Jacksonville, and Houston.
For the month of August, GPT expects year-on-year volumes to increase by 6% to 2.06 million TEUs. This would be an exceptional result, exceeding, albeit slightly, the 2.04 million TEU record in October 2018.
The positive trend should continue also in September, where an annual increase of 1.1% is expected, while in October, November and December imported volumes should fall by 9.2, 6.8 and 11% respectively.
Overall, in 2020 the U.S. ports are expected to have a total import throughput of 20.1 million TEUs, down 6.7 million compared to last year.
During the July-October peak season a total throughput of 7.58 million TEUs is expected, just below the record values recorded in July-October 2018 (7.7 million TEUs) and July-October 2019 (7.66 million TEUs).
Translation by Giles Foster