Retail container traffic to be up 15% in June

Washington, D.C. The National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates said Friday that import cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports is expected to be up 15% in June, compared with the same month a year ago.

The monthly Global Port Tracker report also said that double-digit increases should continue into the fall as the U.S. economy recovers.

“Cargo import numbers are up but retailers are looking closely at other economic indicators to make sure they are sourcing the appropriate amount of merchandise based on consumer demand,” NRF VP for supply chain and customs policy Jonathan Gold said. “Job creation remains a key factor that’s going to affect consumer spending and retail sales.”

U.S. ports handled 1.15 million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units in April, the latest month for which actual numbers are available. That was up 7% from March and up 16% from April 2009. It was also the fifth month in a row to show a year-over-year improvement after December broke a 28-month streak of year-over-year monthly declines. One TEU is one 20-ft. cargo container or its equivalent.

May was estimated at 1.16 million TEU, a 12% increase over last year as spring products hit store shelves and summer merchandise followed close behind. June is forecast to remain at 1.16 million TEU but the figure would be up 15% from last year. July is forecast at 1.23 million TEU, up 11% from last year; August at 1.27 million TEU, up 10%; September at 1.31 million TEU, up 15%; and October -- traditionally the busiest month of the year -- at 1.34 million TEU, up 12%. The strong year-over-year increases are partly due to easy comparisons against unusually low numbers last year.

The first half of 2010 is expected to total 6.6 million TEU, up 12% from the same period last year.