Import cargo volume at the nation’s 12 major retail container ports is expected to total 1.37 million TEUs in November, 5.9 percent more than in same month last year, despite the temporary closure of some ports by Hurricane Sandy, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.
“Sandy certainly caused major problems that are still being cleaned up, but retailers managed to get their cargo into the country and will have plenty of merchandise on store shelves for the holidays,” NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. “While there was clearly a regional impact, at this point the storm is not expected to have a major effect on holiday sales numbers.”
While cargo volume does not correlate directly with sales, NRF is
forecasting that holiday sales will increase 4.1 percent to $586.1
billion this year.
The report noted that August, September and October are the three busiest months of the year for container traffic as retailers bring merchandise into
the country for the holiday season. This year volumes for that three-month period was 4.3 million TEUs, up 5.8 percent over the same period in 2011 at the dozen ports.
Looking forward, Global Port Tracker believes cargo volumes in the next four months will be ahead of the same periods for the prior year: December 2012 is forecast at 1.34 million TEUs, up 9.4 percent from December 2011; January 2013 at 1.39 million TEUs, up 8.2 percent from January 2012; February 2013 at 1.22 million TEUs, up 12 percent from February 2012; and March 2013 at 1.26 million TEUs, up 1.6 percent from March 2012.
“The full extent of the impact from the mayhem and destruction of Hurricane Sandy is still being assessed, but it should hopefully not have too much of a detrimental effect on trade,” Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett said. “The New York/New Jersey terminals were impacted for a short period, but cargo destined for there was handled elsewhere until service returned. Rebuilding of infrastructure and homes should cause an uptick for imports of construction materials.”
Global Port Tracker forecasts container volumes moving through the ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle, Tacoma, New York/New Jersey, Norfolk, Charleston, Savannah, Port Everglades, Miami and Houston. - Chris Dupin