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Rail News: Intermodal

Global Port Tracker: July retail imports set a monthly record

Port of Los Angeles
Photo – Port of Los Angeles


Retail imports at the nation's major container ports hit a record in July, the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates announced late last week.

Ports covered by the Global Port Tracker handled 1.78 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEU) in July, a 5 percent increase from June and a 9.2 percent increase from July 2016, NRF officials said in a press release.

July's volume represented the highest monthly amount recorded since NRF began tracking imports in 2000, beating the previous record of 1.73 million TEU in March 2015. July was the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available.

August's actual volume was estimated at 1.71 million TEU —  a 0.1 percent decrease compared with August 2016, but still one of the five highest months on record, NRF officials said.

September is forecast at 1.67 million TEU, up 4.7 percent from last year; October at 1.7 million TEU, up 2 percent; November at 1.61 million TEU, down 2.3 percent, and December at 1.58 million TEU, up 0.5 percent.

While Hurricane Harvey slowed Gulf Coast cargo and Hurricane Irma was anticipated to do the same in Florida, neither event is expected to significantly impact national totals, according to NRF.

"Consumers are buying more, and retailers are scrambling to import more merchandise to keep up with the demand," said NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold. "Docks have been busier than ever as ships unload cargo headed for store shelves, and that's a good sign both for retail sales and the nation's economy."

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