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NRF: Small Uptick In July Cargo Volume Expected

Import cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports is expected to see a small increase in July as merchants stock their shelves for the back-to-school season, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report from the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.

“Back-to-school and the holidays are the two biggest shopping seasons of the year for retailers and these numbers reflect that,” said Jonathan Gold, NRF vp/supply chain and customs policy. “After a year of difficult comparisons in the wake of the West Coast ports slowdown, we’re finally starting to see normal trends. Some numbers are still down from last year, but the pattern of building up toward the big seasons has returned.”

Ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.63 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units in May, up 12.8% from April and 1.1% from May 2015. One TEU is one 20-foot-long cargo container or its equivalent.

June was estimated at 1.56 million TEU, down 0.5% from the same month last year. July is forecast at 1.64 million TEU, up 1.4% from last year; August at 1.65 million TEU, down 2%; September at 1.58 million TEU, down 2.6%; October at 1.62 million TEU, up 4.4%, and November at 1.52 million TEU, up 2.8%.

The first half of 2016 is expected to total 8.99 million TEU, up 1.5% from the same period in 2015. Total volume for 2015 was 18.2 million TEU, up 5.4% from 2014.

“Trade is holding on to a small margin of growth, but this growth comes in the face of some adverse statistics as well as positive ones,” said Ben Hackett, Hackett Associates founder. “The good news is that retail sales have remained positive as the consumer continues to cautiously spend. The hope is that this spending will continue.”