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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

'Port Tracker' report: Container volume at major U.S. ports shows steady, but slight rise

The forecast for import cargo volume at the nation's major container ports just got a tad rosier. The National Retail Federation (NRF) and IHS Global Insight now expect volume to total 12.7 million containers, according to their latest monthly “Port Tracker” report. In September, the organizations predicted year-end volume of 12.5 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) after projecting 12.3 million units in August.

“As we move closer to the end of the year and get updated numbers, we're seeing a steady improvement with year-over-year declines becoming smaller,” said NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold in a prepared statement. “Retailers are slowly starting to import more merchandise, and that’s a positive sign.”
The latest projection of 12.7 million TEUs would represent a 16.8 percent drop from 2008’s import cargo volume at ports in Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oakland, Calif.; Seattle and Tacoma, Wash.; New York and New Jersey; Hampton Roads, Va.; Charleston, S.C.; Savannah, Ga.; and Houston. Volume also would fall to its lowest level since 2004.

September volume was estimated at 1.14 million TEUs, down 16 percent year over year, according to Port Tracker. NRF and IHS Global Insight project October volume at 1.17 million TEUs, which would represent a 15 percent decline. Volume then would fall 11 percent in November to 1.09 million TEUs and remain flat in December at 1.06 million TEUs.

In January, volume is forecasted to total 1.03 million TEUs, which would represent a 3 percent year-over-year decline vs. an 18 percent drop expected a month ago, NRF and IHS Global Insight said.

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More News from 10/22/2009