Subscribe to our free, weekly email newsletter!


Port Tracker reports improving annual volumes, declining sequential volumes

By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
November 08, 2010

Even though import cargo volumes at U.S.-based retail container ports declining on a sequential basis, they are up on an annual basis, according to the most recent Port Tracker report by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates.

In September, the most recent month for which data is available, U.S. ports handled 1.34 million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEU), which was down 6 percent from August’s 1.42 million TEU and up 17 percent compared to September 2009. The report also noted that September marked the tenth straight month to show an annual gain after a 28-month stretch of declines that ended in December 2009.

The ports surveyed in the report include: Los Angeles/Long Beach, Oakland, Tacoma, Seattle, New York/New Jersey, Hampton Roads, Charleston, and Savannah.

As LM has reported, what is happening with these volumes is different from a typical year in which October is typically the peak month for import cargo volumes as shippers move cargo into the U.S. via ocean carriers in advance of the holiday rush. But what is happening now, according to the report, is that the peak month for volumes is being bumped up to earlier in the year.

The shift in the peak month from October to August is due to a backlog in cargo from earlier in 2010 when ocean carriers took their time to replace vessels taken out of service during the recession, coupled with retailers bringing merchandise into the U.S. ahead of time to avoid the potential of delays in the fall.

This year began with sequential gains in December and January, followed by a decline in February. March volumes—came in at 1.07 million TEU (Twenty-foot Equivalent Units), which was up 7 percent from February’s 1.01 million TEU and 12 percent year-over-year. April volumes at 1.15 million TEU—were up 7 percent from March and 16 percent year-over-year. And May hit 1.25 million TEU followed by June’s 1.32 million TEU, July’s 1.38 million TEU, August’s 1.42 million TEU, and September’s 1.34 million TEU.

“The biggest takeaway of this report is that Peak Season came about six weeks early,” said Ben Hackett, founder of Hackett Associates, in an interview. “Retailers are currently stocked up for Thanksgiving and Holiday Season sales. And when you look at current sales-to-inventory levels you can see there is a slight uptick there…which shows that shipments coming in now are for replacements. There is no big surge occurring to build excess stock.”

The report said that the first half of 2010 came in at 6.9 million TEU for a 17 percent year-over-year gain, with the full year expected to hit 14.6 million TEU for a 15 percent improvement from 2009’s 12.7 million TEU, the slowest year since 2003’s 12.4 million TEU. 2008 hit 15.2 million TEU, the peak in 2007 was 16.5 million TEU.

Looking ahead, Port Tracker is calling for October to come in at 1.29 million TEU for a 9 percent annual gain. November is projected to reach 1.19 million TEU for a 9 percent annual increase, and December is pegged at 1.1 million TEU for a 1 percent gain over 2009. January is expected to hit 1.08 million TEU for a 7 percent increase, and February, which is typically the slowest month of the year, is slated to hit 1.06 million TEU for what would be a 5 percent decrease. And March is calling for 1.04 million TEU, which would be a ten percent decline.

The Port Tracker report pointed out that data beyond March has yet to be tabulated, but it said that a “solid recovery” is expected in the second and third quarters of 2011 following the typical winter slowdown. 

“Retailers know shoppers still have the economy in mind, so they are being very mindful with inventory levels this year,” NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said in a statement. “The cargo numbers show that retailers are expecting a much better holiday season than they have seen over the past two years, but the industry is still being cautious.”

About the Author

Jeff Berman headshot
Jeff Berman
Group News Editor

Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


Subscribe to Logistics Management magazine

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Get timely insider information that you can use to better manage your
entire logistics operation.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Recent Entries

The Coalition for Transportation Productivity (CTP)called on Congress to take a close look at data recently issued by the Department of Transportation (DOT) in its “Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Limits Study, ” and focus on reforming Interstate vehicle weight limits for six-axle trucks.

A recent report published by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and the Grocery Manufacturers Association makes clear the supply chain challenges consumer packaged goods (CPG) shippers are up against, with some of these challenges, specifically transportation-related ones, gaining traction in recent years.

Join Evan Armstrong, president of Armstrong & Associates, as he explains how creating a balanced portfolio of "Top 50" global and domestic partners can maximize efficiency and mitigate risk. Using the precise metrics captured in Armstrong’s most recent study, he'll demonstrate how shippers can measure ROI and plan for the future.

At $2.832 per gallon, the average price per gallon was down 1.1 cents, following drops of 1.6 and 1.1 cents the previous two weeks and a cumulative 8.2 cent cumulative drop over the last six weeks.

The index ISM uses to measure non-manufacturing growth—known as the NMI—was 56.0 in June, which edged out May by 0.3 percent.

Comments

Post a comment
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.


© Copyright 2015 Peerless Media LLC, a division of EH Publishing, Inc • 111 Speen Street, Ste 200, Framingham, MA 01701 USA