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The nation's major retail container ports should log near-record import volumes this month as retailers work to meet strong consumer demand, according to the National Retail Federation.
"We’re in for a busy summer at the ports," said NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold in a press release. "Back-to-school supplies are already arriving, and holiday merchandise will be right behind them. And the big wild card is what will happen with West Coast labor negotiations with the current contract set to expire on July 1."
Imports from China are anticipated to grow again now that the Chinese government has relaxed its pandemic policies that included widespread lockdowns, NRF officials said.
U.S. ports covered by the Global Port Tracker, a tool from NRF and Hackett Associates that tracks cargo volumes, are projected to have processed 2.31 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in May, down 0.9% from May 2021, the overall second-busiest month on record. However, June is forecasted at 2.31 million TEUs, up 7.5% year over year (YOY).
In April, the latest month for which final numbers are available, U.S. ports handled 2.26 million TEUs, down 3.6% from March 2022's 2.34 million TEUs, which is also the record for the number of containers imported in a single month since NRF began tracking imports in 2002. That number is also up 5.1% YOY.
July is forecast at 2.3 million TEUs, an increase of 4.8% YOY, while August is forecast at 2.28 million TEUs, an increase of 0.2% YOY. The first six months of 2022 are expected to total 13.5 million TEUs, up 5.3% from the same time period in 2021.