Major container ports in the United States handled an “unusually high” 1.67 million TEUs in January 2017, up 12.5 percent from the previous year, 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 will continue to see double-digit growth in March and April compared with the same period a year ago “despite tariff and border tax talk in Washington,” 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 an “unusually high” 1.67 million TEUs in January 2017, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available, up 6.5 percent from December and 12.5 percent from the previous January.
The report forecasts February volumes at 1.61 million TEUs, a 4.2 percent increase from the prior year; March at 1.46 million TEUs, up 10.6 percent; April at 1.59 million TEUs, up 10.1 percent; May at 1.67 million TEUs, up 2.9 percent; June at 1.66 million TEUs, up 5.5 percent; and July at 1.71 million TEUs, up 5.2 percent from last year.
Should those projections prove accurate, cargo volumes will grow 7.4 percent year-over-year for first half 2017 to 9.7 million TEUs, more than four times the 1.6 percent growth seen in the first half of 2016. NRF said import volumes grew 3.1 percent year-over-year to 18.8 million TEUs for the full year in 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. Although cargo volumes do not correlate directly to sales, volumes do serve as a barometer of retailers’ expectations, NRF said.
“Consumers are spending more freely and retailers are stocking up for the spring and summer seasons,” NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said in a statement. “Merchants are making sure they are prepared to meet growing demand, and imports are essential to providing American families with the products they need at prices they can afford.”
“The threat of a ‘border adjustment’ tax, withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and a possible rewrite of the North American Free Trade Agreement might eventually dampen the trading spirit and discourage international trade,” added Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett. “In the meantime, the opposite is happening – trade is continuing to grow despite these developments in Washington.”
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.