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Import volume at major U.S. ports to reach record level in October, Global Port Tracker predicts

Import container volume at the nation’s major ports is projected to set a new monthly record in October as a final cargo surge is driven by the approaching holiday season, according to the latest monthly Global Port Tracker report from the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates.

Increasing congestion at the ports and the ongoing West Coast labor negotiations are prompting retailers to make one last push to ensure they’re stocked for the holidays, said NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold in a press release.

"Retailers are working hard to make sure customers can find what they're looking for regardless of what happens at the ports," he said.

Import volume at U.S. ports covered by Global Port Tracker is forecasted to total 1.53 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) this month, topping the record of 1.52 million TEUs set in August. The October volume would represent a 6.4 percent year-over-year increase.

"Cargo volume has been well above average each month since spring as retailers have imported merchandise early in case of any disruption on the docks," NRF officials said.

Global Port Tracker projects November volume at 1.39 million TEUs, which would represent a 3.7 percent year-over-year increase, and December volume at 1.37 million TEUs, which would constitute a 3.9 percent gain.

"Those numbers would bring 2014 to a total of 17.1 million TEUs, an increase of 5.3 percent over 2013’s 16.2 million," NRF officials said.

Global Port Tracker also predicts January 2015 volume of 1.42 million TEUs (up 3.5 percent) and February volume of 1.35 million TEUs (up 8.5 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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