Port of LA
Ports At Near-Record Volume, As West Coast Contract Deadline Approaches

Ports at Near-Record Volume, as West Coast Contract Deadline Approaches

June 9, 2022
"The big wild card is what will happen with West Coast labor negotiations with the current contract set to expire on July 1," says NRF.

In a repeat performance from last month, Imports at the nation’s major retail container ports should see near-record volume again this month as retailers work to meet still-strong consumer demand and also protect themselves against potential disruptions at West Coast ports, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released on June 8 by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.

“We’re in for a busy summer at the ports,” NRF vice president for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said in a statement. “Back-to-school supplies are already arriving, and holiday merchandise will be right behind them. And the big wild card is what will happen with West Coast labor negotiations with the current contract set to expire on July 1. We continue to encourage the parties to remain at the table until a deal is done, but some of the surge we’ve seen may be a safeguard against any problems that might arise.”

Imports from China should start to grow again now that the government has relaxed its Covid Zero policy and begun to release the population of Shanghai from a months-long lockdown, Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett said. “The anticipation is that the Chinese manufacturing and transportation sectors will quickly get back to normal,” Hackett said. Nonetheless, “China’s recovery will need the government’s support in order to get the supply chain functioning normally again to provide the input required by the manufacturing sector.”

U.S. ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 2.26 million TEUs. in April, the latest month for which final numbers are available. That was down 3.6% from March’s 2.34 million TEU – the record for the number of containers imported in a single month since NRF began tracking imports in 2002 – but up 5.1% year over year.

Ports have not yet reported May numbers, but Global Port Tracker projected the month at 2.31 million TEU, down 0.9% from 2.33 million TEU in May 2021, the second-busiest month on record. June is also forecast at 2.31 million TEU, up 7.5% year over year, which would leave May and June tied for the third-highest volume.

Other forecasts include:

  • July is forecast at 2.3 million TEU, up 4.8 % from last year
  • August at 2.28 million TEU, up 0.2%
  • September at 2.13 million TEU, down 0.4%
  • October also at 2.13 million TEU, down 3.8%

The first six months of 2022 are expected to total 13.5 million TEU, up 5.3% year over year. Imports for all of 2021 totaled 25.8 million TEU, a 17.4% increase over 2020’s previous annual record of 22 million TEU.