Sunday , 17 November 2019
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Import volume at the top US container ports is expected to increase 3.9% in December despite a strike that closed the nation’s largest port complex for the first few days of the month, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker (GPT) report released by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates. However, the report cautions that retailers are keeping a close watch on a possible strike on the US East and Gulf coasts, where a contract extension expires December 29.

December increase predicted for US imports despite port strike

GPT’s conclusions are based on a survey and analysis of inbound container traffic flows at the ports of Charleston, Hampton Roads (Virginia), Houston, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Miami, New York/New Jersey, Oakland, Port Everglades, Savannah, Seattle, and Tacoma.

“After a strong kickoff on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the holiday season is looking good and these numbers reflect that,” said Jonathan Gold, NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy. “Nonetheless, we narrowly avoided what could have been a long-term disruption with the strike in Los Angeles and Long Beach and don’t want to run that risk on the East Coast and Gulf Coast. NRF is continuing to urge labour, management and lawmakers to do whatever is necessary to keep our nation’s ports running smoothly.”

The ports followed by Global Port Tracker together handled 1.39m teu in October, the latest month for which finalised numbers are available. That was down 1% from the preceding month, but up 5.2% from October 2011.

November is estimated at 1.22m teu, a 5.6% drop from last year that was due in part to the eight-day strike that closed most terminals at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach beginning in the final days of the month, but also because November is a traditionally weak month after most holiday cargo has arrived.

Volume for the peak season months of August, September and October increased 3.6% from a year ago to 4.2mteu. The full year tally is expected to reach 15.8m teu, up 2.5% from 2011.

Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett said the LA/Long Beach strike shifted some cargo into December but would not have a significant effect on net volume for the year. While the strike led to some diversion of cargo to Oakland and ports further afield, it is believed much of the cargo destined for LA/Long Beach will simply arrive at the port later as vessels adjust their rotations.

“As we look ahead into the coming months of 2013, the main threat to cargo flows through the ports would be a strike on East Coast and Gulf Coast. There is little option for diversion,” he said