Forecast: Container traffic will be 6.5% lower than 2007
Cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports is expected to decline 6.5 percent in 2008 compared with 2007 said the National Retail Federation and the economic forecasting firm Global Insight as they released their monthly Port Tracker report.
“This has clearly been a difficult year and we still have a challenging holiday season ahead of us,” said the Jonathan Golf, the federation’s vice president for supply chain and customs policy. “Retailers are being careful to import only as much merchandise as they think they can sell.”
Volume for ports surveyed — Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle and Tacoma on the West Coast; New York-New Jersey, Hampton Roads, Va., Charleston, S.C., and Savannah, Ga. on the East Coast; and Houston on the Gulf Coast — is projected to total 15.43 million TEUs for the year, compared with 16.5 million TEUs in 2007. The new estimate is down from 15.5 million projected in September, which would have been a 6 percent decline from 2007.
The projected volume would be the lowest since 2005, when 15.4 million TEUs moved through the ports.
U.S. ports surveyed handled 1.37 million TEU in August, the most recent month for which actual numbers are available. The number was up 4 percent from July but down 5.9 percent from August 2007.
The report forecasts volumes for the next few months this way:
' September, 1.34 million TEU, down 9.2 percent from the prior year.
' October, 1.38 million TEU, down 4.3 percent.
' November, 1.28 million TEU, down 6.9 percent.
' December, 1.25 million TEU, down 2.1 percent.
' January, 1.21 million TEU, down 1.6 percent.
' February, 1.15 million TEU, down 5.9 percent.
Meanwhile, Port Tracker’s congestion rating for the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach continues at medium because of new regulations that took effect Oct. 1 requiring trucking companies seeking to do business there to obtain a special concession license.
“Uncertainties remaining for implementation of the Clean Trucks Program at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are causing concerns,” Global Insight Economist Paul Bingham said. “Weak import demand has relieved pressure on port capacity but doubts remain about whether enough trucks will be available.”
The remainder of the U.S. ports covered by Port Tracker are rated “low” for congestion, same as last month.