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Port Tracker report calls for 9 percent growth in April

By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
April 12, 2011

Import cargo volume at major United States-based container ports is pegged to be up 9 percent in April on a year-over-year basis, according to the Port Tracker report by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates.

Port Tracker is calling for first half 2011 volumes to be up 7.4 percent, ahead of February’s 6 percent prediction for the same timeframe and up 8 percent annually. In 2010, the report said there was a total of 14.7 million TEU moved—a 16 percent gain over 2009, which was largely achieved due to 2009’s 12.7 million TEU serving as the lowest annual tally since 2003.

The most recent month for which data is available in the report is February, which hit 1.1 million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEU) and marked the 15th straight month to show an annual gain after a 28-month stretch of declines that ended in December 2009. February, which is typically the slowest month of the year for ocean volumes, was 8 percent below January and up 10 percent over February 2010.

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

Despite ongoing turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa driving increasing oil and gasoline prices, Port Tracker indicated that consumer spending is showing slow but steady growth and it is being manifested ocean shipping activity.

And with the Chinese New Year occurring in early February, with many shipments loaded ten days-to-two weeks prior to that, shipments arrive in February which made that month stronger than usual, said Hackett Associates President Ben Hackett.

“The weakness comes in March with delays,” said Hackett. “February numbers for west coast U.S. ports were down sequentially [from February to March] and up marginally from the previous year. Overall things are still holding up nicely with a seven-to-eight percent annual growth rate. Things may be a bit slower over the next couple months and then pick up as summer starts and gears up for [peak] season.”

The Port Tracker report is calling for March to come in at 1.2 million TEU for an 11 percent annual gain. April is expected to reach 1.24 million TEU for a 9 percent annual increase, and May is projected to hit at 1.32 million TEU for a 4 percent gain. June is expected to hit 1.38 million TEU for a 5 percent increase, and July at 1.45 million TEU for a 5 percent gain. August is expected to be up 5 percent at 1.54 million TEU.

“These numbers are an indication that the economy is recovering and retailers are expecting continued increases in sales through the summer and beyond,” NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said in a statement. “There are challenges ahead from rising prices for gasoline and other essentials, but inventories are under control and retailers are optimistic.”

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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).


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