Retail container traffic continues below last year’s levels

(WASHINGTON, DC — November 6, 2007) A monthly Port Tracker report released today reveals that traffic levels at the nation’s major retail container ports are dropping for the second month in a row as compared to last year’s levels. The report, released by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Global Insight, predicts that levels will continue either flat or below last year’s levels for the remainder of the peak shipping season.

All U.S. ports covered by Port Tracker are all currently rated “low” for congestion, the same as last month. Ports surveyed handled 1.46 million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEU) of container traffic in September, the most recent month for which actual numbers are available. That’s down about 6,000 containers, or 0.4 percent, from August, and 1.9 percent from September 2006.

“The low volumes at the ports reflect retailers’ cautious expectations for sales during the holiday season,” NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. “These numbers show that retailers are carefully managing their inventories so that supply won’t exceed demand.”
October, traditionally the peak month of the year as retailers rush to stock shelves for the important holiday season, was estimated at about 3,300 containers short of the record high of 1.51 million TEU set in October 2006, or a year-to-year decline of 0.2 percent.
“Container traffic is expected to continue at a slow pace due to weakness in the U.S. economy,” Global Insight Economist Paul Bingham said.


Port Tracker is produced by the economic research, forecasting and analysis firm Global Insight for NRF, which 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.

By Professional Mariner Staff