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Imports at major U.S. retail container ports this year are expected to register the lowest total in four years as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the U.S. economy continues, according to a report released yesterday by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates.
U.S. ports handled 1.61 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) of cargo in June, up nearly 5 percent compared to May but down 10.5 percent year over year, NRF officials said in a press release.
NRF is forecasting monthly TEU totals between July and December to be between 1.59 million TEUs and 1.81 million TEUs. The forecasted totals for each month would be down between 5.8 percent and 9.6 percent compared with the totals from the year before.
The TEU forecasts for the year would bring 2020 to a total of 19.6 million TEUs, down 9.4 percent from last year and the lowest annual total since 19.1 million TEUs in 2016. The first half of 2020 totaled 9.5 million TEUs, down 10.1 percent from last year.
August is expected to be the busiest month of the July-October “peak season” when retailers rush to bring in merchandise for the winter holidays, NRF officials said. With retailers ordering less merchandise, the month’s total would be the lowest peak for the season since 1.73 million TEUs in 2016 and falls far short of the 1.96 million TEUs peak in 2019.
NRF’s Global Port Tracker report provides forecasts for the U.S. ports in Los Angeles/Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle and Tacoma on the West Coast; New York/New Jersey, Port of Virginia, Charleston, Savannah, Port Everglades, Miami and Jacksonville on the East Coast, and Houston on the Gulf Coast.