WASHINGTON, D.C.–Import cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports is forecast to level off this month at about the same numbers as last year, and is expected to remain steady into mid-summer before resuming gains, according to a Global Port Tracker released by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.
“After nearly a year and a half of volume increases, it’s not surprising to see some leveling off,” said Jonathan Gold, vice president for supply chain and customs policy for the NRF. “Retailers are being cautious with how much merchandise they import due to economic pressures such as higher commodity prices, but overall consumer demand remains strong.”
U.S. ports handled 1.08 million Twenty-foot Equivalents Units in March, a 0.3 percent gain over March 2010, according to Global Port Tracker. April was estimated at 1.18 million TEU, a 4 percent increase over April 2010. May is forecast to be 1.26 million TEU, a decline of 0.6 percent from May 2010, the first year-over-year decline since November 2009.
The first half of 2011 is forecast at 7.1 million TEU, up 4 percent from the first half of 2010.
“Consumers are being cautious about their expenditures in light of the higher gasoline costs and rising inflation combined with mixed signals from the economic data,” said Ben Hackett, founder of Hackett Associates. ”Nevertheless, we expect the second half of the year to be more robust than the first half.”