NRF: West Coast Port Traffic To Peak In August

Products for the fourth quarter and holiday shopping season continue to flow into the nation’s West Coast ports, with August expected to be the busiest month of the year, according to the National Retail Federation’s Global Port Tracker.

“Shoppers are right in the middle of buying back-to-school products but the retail supply chain is already preparing for the holiday season,” said Jonathan Gold, NRF’s vp/supply chain and customs policy. “August is the peak month of the annual shipping season that builds up to the winter holidays, and a lot of the merchandise consumers will be buying this fall is already showing up at the docks.”

Ports covered by the Global Port Tracker handled 1.58 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units in June, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was down 2.8% from May and 0.5% from June 2015. One TEU is one 20-foot-long cargo container or its equivalent.

July was estimated at 1.64 million TEU, up 1.5% from the same month last year. August is forecast at 1.68 million TEU, down 0.3% from last year; September at 1.61 million TEU, down 0.6%; October at 1.63 million TEU, up 4.9%; November at 1.52 million TEU, up 2.9%, and December at 1.47 million TEU, 2.5%.

Those numbers should bring 2016 to a total of 18.5 million TEU, up 1.7% from 2015. Total volume for 2015 was 18.2 million TEU, up 5.4% from 2014.

Ben Hackett, Hackett Associates founder, said much of the recent upturn in the U.S. economy is attributable to consumers, noting that the 5.1% increase in year-over-year retail sales in June as calculated by NRF was nearly twice the 2.6% increase in average hourly wages seen the same month.

“In these stressed times with uncertainty abounding amid an unusual presidential election and other issues, consumers have decided it is time to hit the stores and stock up on goods,” he said.