Import cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports should be at near-peak levels this month even as retailers work to cope with the Hanjin Shipping bankruptcy, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker released by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.
“Hanjin should not significantly affect volume for the month since alternative arrangements to unload those containers or shift cargo elsewhere should be dealt with by the time the numbers are tallied,” says NRF Vice President Jonathan Gold.
“But millions of dollars of merchandise is in limbo at the moment, and retailers are working hard to make sure it ends up on store shelves in time for the holidays,” he adds.
Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett says, “Despite the apparent slowdown in economic activity being reported around the world, the volume of imports continues to grow slowly, much along the lines that we have been projecting.”
Ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.63 million TEUs in July, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was up 3.2% from this June and up 0.7% from July 2015.
August — the busiest month of the annual shipping cycle buildup to the holiday shopping season — was estimated at 1.67 million TEU, down 0.4% from last year. September is forecast at 1.62 million TEU, down 0.2% from last year; October at 1.63 million TEU, up 5.3% from last year; November at 1.53 million TEU, up 3.8%, and December at 1.49 million TEU, up 3.6%.
That should bring 2016 to a total of 18.6 million TEU, up 1.8% from last year, NRF says. Total volume for 2015 was 18.2 million TEU, up 5.4% from 2014. The first half of 2016 totaled 9 million TEU, up 1.6% from the same period in 2015. January 2017 is forecast at 1.53 million TEU, up 2.8% from January 2016.