U.S. inbound container volume fell 0.3 percent year-on-year in August, according to figures compiled by the trade intelligence firm Zepol Corp.
More striking, volume fell 3 percent from July to August, an unusual trend given that volume typically rises as peak season approaches. Zepol said there has been an increase from July to August in inbound volume each of the past three years.
“The lower August numbers could be due to early holiday purchases in July, which saw abnormally high TEU numbers,” said Zepol Chief Executive Officer Paul Rassmussen. “But it may also have to do with the potential for labor strikes at east coast ports from the International Longshoremen’s Association.”
Imports do appear to be robust so far in September, however, with volume through the first 12 days of the months up 10 percent over the same period in 2011.
The weak August volume was spread fairly evenly through the major U.S. ports, with seven of the top 10 ports seen inbound volume declines in the month. Imports from China fell 0.6 percent, while they fell 10 percent from South Korea and Singapore.