WASHINGTON-Import cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports has been projected to rise by 2.3 percent this month, according to the latest Global Port Tracker report released by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.
At the same time, retailers are urging the International Longshoremen’s Association and the U.S. Maritime Alliance to ramp up their efforts to avoid a strike at East Coast and Gulf Coast ports. The most recent extension of contract talk is slated to run through Feb. 6, coming after previous strike deadlines in September and October.
A strike would close 14 ports from Maine to Texas, where nearly 15,000 workers handle an estimated 40 percent of the nation’s ocean cargo. “The uncertainty of what will happen in February has retailers implementing expensive contingency plans yet again, and is a burden our economy cannot afford,” said Jonathan Gold, NRF vice president for supply chain and customs policy.
The cargo volume handled by the U.S. ports followed by the Global Tracker Report was down 2.8 percent year over year in November, the most recent month with available figures. The report projected a 6.5 percent gain in cargo volume in December, followed by January’s 2.3 percent estimated pickup and a 6 percent increase in February.
The report also said March’s volume should edge up 0.5 percent, followed by a projected 1.7 percent gain in April and a 3.4 percent rise in May.