WASHINGTON–Import cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports, which has been lagging in year-over-year comparisons in recent months, is expected to swing upward now that the holiday shopping season is approaching, according to the most recent Global Port Tracker report released by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.
For July, the most recent month with available figures, U.S. ports followed in the report took in 1.32 million 20-foot equivalent units, up 6 percent from June but down 4 percent from July 2010. A preliminary estimate shows that August volume was flat compared to last year’s August.
Growth will resume in September, with an estimated 11.8 percent rise in volume year over year, according to the report. The report also projected that October’s volume will rise 9.5 percent, with 8 percent and 4.5 percent increases predicted for November and December, respectively.
Ben Hackett, founder of Hackett Associates, said the relatively strong import volumes of August and September stem from low levels of inventory that are needed to meet back-to-school and post-Thanksgiving sales. “The third quarter will be positive for the ocean carriers and retailers, but that will turn into negative growth for the next two to three quarters, thereafter,” Hackett said.