Imports at US Ports remain at near-record volume as demand continues and West Coast contract deadline approaches, according to the National Retail Federation; back-to-school supplies and holiday merchandise will make for a busy summer, says NRF VP

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June 9, 2022 (press release) –

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 today 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. “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 Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units – one 20-foot container or its equivalent – in April, the latest month for which final numbers are available. That was down 3.6 percent 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 percent 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 percent 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 percent year over year, which would leave May and June tied for the third-highest volume.

July is forecast at 2.3 million TEU, up 4.8 percent from last year; August at 2.28 million TEU, up 0.2 percent; September at 2.13 million TEU, down 0.4 percent, and October also at 2.13 million TEU, down 3.8 percent.

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

How to build a stronger and more sustainable supply chain will be addressed as retailers, industry experts and technology innovators meet at the NRF Supply Chain 360 conference in Cleveland June 20-21.

Global Port Tracker, which is produced for NRF by Hackett Associates, provides historical data and forecasts for the U.S. ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle and Tacoma on the West Coast; New York/New Jersey, Port of Virginia, Charleston, Savannah, Port Everglades, Miami and Jacksonville on the East Coast, and Houston on the Gulf Coast. The report is free to NRF retail members, and subscription information is available at NRF.com/PortTracker or by calling (202) 783-7971. Subscription information for non-members can be found at www.globalporttracker.com.

About NRF
The National Retail Federation, the world’s largest retail trade association, passionately advocates for the people, brands, policies and ideas that help retail thrive. From its headquarters in Washington, D.C., NRF empowers the industry that powers the economy. Retail is the nation’s largest private-sector employer, contributing $3.9 trillion to annual GDP and supporting one in four U.S. jobs – 52 million working Americans. For over a century, NRF has been a voice for every retailer and every retail job, educating, inspiring and communicating the powerful impact retail has on local communities and global economies. NRF.com 

About Hackett Associates
Hackett Associates provides expert consulting, research and advisory services to the international maritime industry, government agencies and international institutions. www.hackettassociates.com

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