Global Insight: Ports to see record August
Traffic at New York-New Jersey and other leading U.S. retail container ports should hit a record high in August, according to the monthly Port Tracker report released today by the National Retail Federation and Global Insight.
U.S. ports covered by Port Tracker are Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland, Tacoma and Seattle on the West Coast; New York-New Jersey, Hampton Roads, Charleston and Savannah on the East Coast; and Houston on the Gulf Coast.
The ports surveyed handled 1.37 million TEUs in May, the most recent month for which actual numbers are available. This was down 0.2 percent from May 2006 but up 3.3 percent from this April. June volume estimates show a 0.1 percent increase over the year-ago period to 1.4 million TEUs. Port Tracker is forecasting July to come in at 1.48 million TEUs, up 6.3 percent from July 2006.
The report estimates August to set a record total high for the ports covered, up to 1.54 million TEUs — 3.4 percent higher than last August and easily breaking last October's record of 1.51 million TEU.
The report expects volume to drop to 1.51 million TEUs in September, still a 1.4 percent increase over last September. October, typically the peak of the “peak season,” is forecast at 1.57 million TEUs, up 3.9 percent increase from a year ago and another all-time record.
The report forecasts traffic will drop off by in November and continue to follow normal pattern of slowing into the winter.
All ports retained a rating of “low” for congestion, except for Los Angeles and Long Beach. The 750 members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union’s Local 63 Office Clerical Unit authorized a strike last week, but negotiations continued despite the union's contract expiring June 30. Responding to the potential problem, Port Tracker moved the Long Beach and Los Angeles ports' congestion rating from low to moderate.
'Los Angeles and Long Beach are under some threat of an office clerical union strike in the near future that could disrupt the ports' operations if contract negotiations are not resolved,' said Global Insight Economist Paul Bingham. 'With holidays already scheduled for three days in July, a shutdown due to a strike could cause problems for both ports. Aside from the situation at L.A.-Long Beach, the rest of the major retail container ports across the country are operating without congestion from harbor to gate.'