Major container ports in the United States handled 18.8 million TEUs for the full year in 2016, up 3.2 percent from 2015, according to the Global Port Tracker report by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.
Import volumes at major U.S. container ports grew 3.2 percent to 18.8 million TEUs in 2016, according to the latest monthly Global Port Tracker report by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates.
Import volumes at major container ports in the United States are projected to rise 4.7 percent in the first half of 2017 compared with the same period a year ago, according to the latest monthly Global Port Tracker report by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates.
Ports covered by the Global Port Tracker handled 1.58 million TEUs in December, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available, down 3.8 percent from November but up 10.2 percent compared with the same 2015 period.
NRF said import volumes grew 3.2 percent year-over-year to 18.8 million TEUs for the full year in 2016.
The report forecasts January volumes at 1.59 million TEUs, a 6.6 percent increase from the prior year; February at 1.53 million TEUs, down 0.6 percent year-over-year; March at 1.43 million TEUs, up 7.8 percent; April at 1.56 million TEUs, up 8.2 percent; May at 1.66 million TEUs, up 2.3 percent; and June at 1.65 million TEUs, up 4.3 percent from last year.
Should those projections prove accurate, the expected 4.6 year-over-year growth rate for first half 2017 would be nearly three times the 1.6 percent growth seen in the first half of 2016.
The numbers come as NRF is forecasting 2017 retail sales – excluding automobiles, gasoline and restaurants – to increase between 3.7 and 4.2 percent over 2016 thanks to job and income growth and low debt that show “the fundamentals are in place.” Although cargo volumes do not correlate directly to sales, volumes do serve as a barometer of retailers’ expectations, NRF said.
“This is very much in line with what we are forecasting for retail sales and consumer spending this year,” NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said in a statement. “Retailers try to balance inventories very carefully with demand. So, when retailers import more merchandise, that’s a pretty good indicator of what they are expecting to happen with sales.”
“The United States is well placed in 2017 and is likely to outperform most of the rest of the developed economies,” added Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett. “If the infrastructure investments promised by the new administration come about, we can expect stronger growth than in 2016, but that assumes good relationships with U.S. trading partners and no recourse to trade barriers that would result in a tit-for-tat response.”
Global Port Tracker, which is produced by Hackett Associates for the NRF, covers the U.S. ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle, Tacoma, New York/New Jersey, Hampton Roads, Charleston, Savannah, Port Everglades, Miami and Houston.