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Rail News: Intermodal

NRF: Ports log record peak season imports

U.S. ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled an estimated 8.1 million TEUs from July through October
Photo – Port of Oakland


Major U.S. retail container ports logged record imports this summer and fall, recording their busiest peak season as retailers replenish inventories and stock up for the holiday season, according to a Global Port Tracker report released yesterday by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates.

U.S. ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled an estimated 8.1 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) from July through October, the peak shipping season.

While subject to revision once October numbers become final, that would represent an increase of 6.1% over the same period last year and would beat the previous record of 7.7 million TEUs set in 2018, NRF officials said in a press release.

The peak season record includes 2.11 million TEUs imported in September, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was 0.1% higher than the previous record of 2.1 million TEUs set in August for the largest number of containers imported in a single month since NRF began tracking imports in 2002.

October imports were estimated at 2 million TEUs, up 6.5% year over year and the fourth-highest month on record. 

Part of the surge was fueled by restocking after retail sales rebounded this summer during the COVID-19 pandemic, NRF officials said in a press release.

"Whether similar patterns will continue in the coming months will be influenced to a large extent by the coronavirus pandemic and whether it will be brought under control by the arrival of expected vaccines next year," Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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