Container Traffic Breaking Records

Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Traffic at the nation’s major retail container ports should reach a record high in August, then drop off slightly in September before hitting the year’s traditional peak in October, according to the monthly Port Tracker report released today by the National Retail Federation and Global Insight.

August is forecast at 1.53 million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEU) of container traffic, breaking last October’s record of 1.51 million, while September is forecast at 1.49 million. October, traditionally the busiest month of the year as retailers bring in merchandise for the holiday sales season, is forecast at 1.54 million this year. “The holiday season is the most important part of the year for our industry, so it’s essential that we starting looking at these numbers and watching for any problems as early as possible. NRF Vice President and International Trade Counsel Erik Autor said.

Nationwide, the ports surveyed handled 1.3 million TEU of container traffic in April, the most recent month for which actual numbers are available. That was down 5.8 percent from April 2006 but up 2 percent from this March. Volume continued up in May, which was estimated at 1.35 million TEU (down 1.2 percent from May 2006). June is forecast at 1.4 million TEU (down 0.17 percent from June 2006), July at 1.48 million TEU (up 6 percent from July 2006), August at 1.53 million TEU (up 3.3 percent from August 2006), September at 1.49 million TEU (flat from September 2006), and October at 1.54 million TEU (up 2 percent from September 2006). One TEU is a 20-foot cargo container or its equivalent. Port Tracker, which is produced by the economic research, forecasting and analysis firm Global Insight for NRF, looks at inbound container volume, the availability of trucks and railroad cars to move cargo out of the ports, labor conditions and other factors that affect cargo movement and congestion.

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