NRF: Modest December Import Traffic Growth Expected

Cargo traffic at the nation’s container ports is expected to grow modestly in December, according to the National Retail Federation.

The NRF’s Global Port Tracker, completed by Hackett Associates, said import’s in the year’s final month is expected to grow 1.5% year-over-year.

“Retailers are doing last-minute restocking as consumers head toward the finish line of the shopping season, but the majority of holiday merchandise is already in the country and ports are beginning to quiet down,” said Jonathan Gold, vp/supply chain and customs policy, NRF.

Ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.77 million twenty-foot equivalent units in October, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was up 0.3% from September and up 5.9% year-over-year. A TEU is one 20-foot-long cargo container or its equivalent.

November was estimated at 1.64 million TEU, down 0.3% from last year, and December is forecast at 1.6 million TEU, up 1.5%.

The total for 2017 is expected to come to 20 million TEU, topping last year’s previous record of 18.8 million TEU by 6.4%. That compares with 2016’s 3.1% increase over 2015.

January 2018 is forecast at 1.67 million TEU, down 0.5% from January 2017; February at 1.6 million TEU, up 11.6% from last year; March at 1.5 million TEU, down 2%, and April at 1.66 million TEU, up 3.6%. The February and March percentages account for when Asian factories close for Lunar New Year each year.