The nation’s major retail container ports are expected to see record cargo levels this summer and fall, but should be able to handle the added workload without congestion problems that have strained the industry’s supply chains in the past, according to the July Port Tracker report by the National Retail Federation and Global Insight.
‘We’re beginning to see numbers this summer that are higher than the peak for the entire year of 2005,’ Global Insight Economist Paul Bingham said. ‘Last year’s records look like they’ve already been broken, and we should be hitting new records all summer and right up through November. Despite the volume, the ports are operating without congestion from harbor to gate and out onto the rail system. There are challenges to sustaining system performance because of the growth in volume, but we expect shippers will get through the season without significant congestion.’
‘With cargo volume running this high, it’s more important than ever to have a tool like Port Tracker to keep a close watch on what’s happening at the ports,’ NRF Vice President and International Trade Counsel Erik Autor said.
All ports covered by Port Tracker ’ Los Angeles/Long Beach, Oakland, Tacoma and Seattle on the West Coast, and New York/New Jersey, Hampton Roads, Charleston and Savannah on the East Coast ’ are currently rated ‘low’ for congestion, the same as last month.
Nationwide, ports surveyed handled 1.34 million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (teus) of container traffic in May, the most recent month for which actual numbers are available. The figure was up 1.2% from April and nine percent from May 2005.
Projected volume for June was expected to be 1.38 million teus, already above 2005’s peak of 1.37 million teus set last October, the traditional peak month of the shipping season. Over the six-month forecast period of the report, volume is expected to climb to a peak of 1.49 million teus this October ’ up 8.7% from October 2005 ’ before settling to 1.39 million teus in November.