NRF: Post-Holiday Import Levels Rise

Imports at the nation’s major retail container ports saw an unexpected increase during the industry’s busy holiday season, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report from the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.

“Import volume suggests that retailers had a strong holiday season,” said Jonathan Gold, NRF’s vice president for supply chain and customs policy. “Retailers don’t import merchandise unless they think they can sell it.”

Ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.64 million twenty-foot equivalent units in November, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was down 1.6% from October since most imported holiday merchandise had already arrived but up 11.2% from November 2015. Global Port Tracker had previously predicted a year-over-year increase of 3.6%. One TEU is one 20-foot-long cargo container or its equivalent.

December was estimated at 1.54 million TEU, up 7% year-over-year rather than the 3.2% that had been expected.

Cargo volume for 2016 is now estimated at 18.8 million TEU, up 2.9% from 2015 rather than the 2% previously expected. Total volume for 2015 was 18.2 million TEU, up 5.4% from 2014.

January is forecast at 1.57 million TEU, up 5.7% from January 2016; February at 1.52 million TEU, down 1.5% from last year; March at 1.41 million TEU, up 6.5% from last year; April at 1.55 million TEU, up 7.3%, and May at 1.61 million TEU, down 0.5%.