Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Retail imports at major U.S. container ports to rise 8.5 percent this month
Imports at primary U.S. retail container ports are projected to increase 8.5 percent this month year on year, and the holiday season is expected to be strong even though a labor strike looms at East Coast and Gulf Coast ports, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report.
The National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates released the report, which covers the ports of Long Angeles/Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle and Tacoma on the West Coast; New York/New Jersey, Hampton Roads, Charleston, Savannah, Port Everglades and Miami on the East Coast, and Houston on the Gulf Coast.
"Retailers are bringing in more merchandise for the holiday season this year. The question at some ports is whether longshoremen will be on the docks to unload it," said Jonathan Gold, NRF vice president for supply chain and customs policy.
"Regardless of what happens with contract talks, retailers have contingency plans in place to ensure that merchandise reaches store shelves in time and that there is no disruption for shoppers," he said.
The August talks between the International Longshoremen's Association and United States Maritime Alliance were unsuccessful, and a major ILA local comprised of New York and New Jersey dock workers has already voted to strike if an agreement has not been made by the time the current contract expires on September 30.
Labor negotiations will start again next week with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service as arbitrator.
In the meantime, retailers are considering viable contingencies, such as rerouting cargo through West Coast ports.
The nation's major ports followed by Global Port Tracker handled 1.41 million TEUs in July, up 2.2 percent from June and 2.5 percent from July 2011.
August volume was projected at 1.43 million TEU, up 4.4 percent year on year. September is forecast at 1.49 million TEU, up 8.5 percent; October at 1.48 million TEU, up 11.7 percent; November at 1.32 million TEU, up 1.9 percent; and December at 1.25 million TEU, up 2.7 percent.
The first half of 2012 totaled 7.7 million TEU, up 3 percent from the same period last year. For the full year, 2012 is expected to total 16 million TEU, up 4.2 percent from 2011.
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