IMPORT container volume through major US posts is expected to continue to rise during the first half despite congestion at west coast ports, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker released by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates.
"Now that a federal mediator is on the scene, we hope the mediator will be able to help the parties quickly reach a new contract so we can begin to work on solutions to the ongoing congestion issues," said NRF vice president Jonathan Gold said.
"Retailers are already starting to bring in products for the spring season, and want both labour and management to work together to bring these issues to an end," he said.
Ports covered by the survey handled 1.39 million TEU in November, the latest month for which hard data are available. That was down 10.7 per cent from October as holiday merchandise wound down but up 3.5 per cent from November 2013. December was estimated at 1.35 million TEU, up 2.7 per cent from the year before.
Those numbers brought 2014 to a preliminary total of 17.2 million TEU, an increase of six per cent over 2013's 16.2 million. Imports in 2012 totalled 15.8 million.
January is forecast at 1.39 million TEU, up 1.1 per cent from January 2014, February at 1.3 million TEU, up 4.8 per cent from last year; March also at 1.3 million TEU, down 0.5 per cent; April at 1.43 million TEU, the same as last year; and May at 1.49 million TEU, up 0.6 per cent.
"2014 started out with a whimper as winter weather hammered the country but it appears to have ended with a bang," Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett said. "Import volumes on the west coast, despite all the problems there, were the highest since 2009. A similar picture exists on the east coast, which had even healthier results."
Global Port Tracker covers Los Angeles/Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle, Tacoma, New York/New Jersey, Hampton Roads, Charleston, Savannah, Port Everglades, and Houston.