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Import volume at the nation's major container ports is projected to increase 12.4 percent in March as retailers begin to stock up for the spring and summer seasons, according to the latest monthly Global Port Tracker report released by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates."Retailers are bouncing back from the annual post-holiday slowdown and getting ready for the surge in activity that comes each year as the weather warms up," said NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold in a press release. "Shelves are going to be well-stocked with everything from bathing suits to barbecues."NRF is forecasting 4.1 percent sales growth in 2014, contingent on how Washington policies on economic issues affect consumer confidence, federation officials said.U.S. ports followed by Global Port Tracker handled 1.36 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in January (the latest cargo data available), up 5.3 percent from December's level and 4.1 percent from January 2013's total, according to the report. Volume in February — historically the slowest month of the year — is estimated at 1.17 million TEUs, down 8.8 percent year over year.Global Port Tracker forecasts March volume at 1.28 million TEUs, April volume at 1.36 million TEUs, May volume at 1.44 million TEUs and June volume at 1.43 million TEUs. For 2014's first half, container volume is projected to total 8 million TEUs, which would represent a 3.5 percent increase compared with the same 2013 period.Global Port Tracker data is derived from ports in Los Angeles/Long Beach and Oakland, Calif.; Seattle and Tacoma, Wash.; New York/New Jersey; Hampton Roads, Va.; Charleston, S.C.; Savannah, Ga.; Houston; and Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
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