The National Retail Federation (NRF) and Global Insight monthly Port Tracker report forecasts container traffic at 1.53 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) in August. If that figure is reached, it will shatter the previous record, last October's 1.51 million TEUs. September volume is projected at 1.49 TEUs.
“Summer is only starting, but retailers are already looking ahead to the holiday season and the logistics of making sure merchandise is on the shelves when consumers come looking for it,” says Erik Autor, vice president and International Trade Counsel of the NRF. “The holiday season is the most important part of the year for our industry, so it's essential that we start looking at these numbers and watching for any problems as early as possible.”
For the moment there are no problems, as all of the U.S. ports covered by the survey are running without congestion from the harbor to the gate. “Though rail performance deteriorated slightly in May,” observes Paul Bingham, Global Insight Economist, “pressure on intermodal train operations has eased.” He observes that although container traffic is growing, it is doing so at a slower pace than last year at the same time. On that basis he predicts that the system will have enough capacity to deliver “acceptable performance over the next six months.”
Projections are based on data from the West Coast Ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach, Oakland, Tacoma and Seattle; East Coast Ports of New York/New Jersey, Hampton Roads, Charleston and Savannah; and the Gulf Port of Houston.