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Rail News: Intermodal

Imports predicted to slow at major U.S. ports in December


Import cargo volume at major U.S. ports likely will continue to slow this month since most holiday merchandise already is in the nation despite significant congestion affecting West Coast ports, according to the latest Global Port Tracker report from the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates.

December import volume is expected to total 1.37 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) as the holiday shipping cycle winds down. Imports set a record 1.59 million TEUs in September, as retailers rushed to bring merchandise into the country ahead of any port disruptions, NRF officials said in a press release.

"Retailers instituted costly contingency plans early on to ensure that holiday merchandise would be on the shelves or sitting in a warehouse ready to go," said NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold. "However, we are still hearing from retailers experiencing delays at West Coast ports, and retailers are also looking ahead to the spring season."

Ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled an estimated 1.41 million TEUs in November, which would represent a 4.8 percent year-over-year increase. With December forecasted at 1.37 million TEUs, 2014's total is expected to reach 17.2 million TEUs, or 6.2 percent higher than 2013’s total of 16.2 million TEUs, according to the report.

Looking ahead to 2015, Global Port Tracker projects January volume at 1.41 million TEUs, up 2.5 percent year over year; February volume at 1.34 million TEUs, up 8 percent; March volume at 1.33 million TEUs, up 2.2 percent; and April volume at 1.46 million TEUs, up 2.1 percent.

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.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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