Final data for 2008 showed volumes for the year at 15.2m teu compared with 16.5m teu in 2007, the lowest total since 2004, when 14m teu moved through the ports. Volume for the first six months of 2009 is forecast to be 6.6m teu, down 11.8% from the 7.5m teu recorded during the same period in 2008.
“2008 was one of the most challenging years retailers have seen, and all indications are that 2009 won’t be any better,” said NRF vice president for supply chain and customs policy Jonathan Gold. “Unfortunately, cargo volume at the ports reflects retailers’ anticipated sales, and the NRF expects that sales will get worse before they get better. Retailers are only going to import what they can sell.”
The ten leading US ports surveyed handled 1.06m teu in December 2008, the last month for which actual numbers are available. That was down 13.9% from November and 17.2% from December 2007, and made December the 18th month in a row to see a year-on-year decline. The last month to see a year-on-year increase was July 2007, when the 1.44m teu moved through the ports was up 3.4% from July 2006.