US container imports to soar over 2 million TEU

A large ship transporting numerous cargo containers through San Francisco Bay heading out to sea.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates’ Global Port Tracker research has predicted that this summer will see the biggest monthly inbound cargo traffic at the main container ports in the US in almost two years.

The Global Port Tracker covered ports in the US and revealed that 2.02 million TEU were handled in April, up 4.6 per cent from March and 13.2 per cent year-on-year (YoY), and it was the largest level since 2.06 million TEU in October 2023.

Not all ports have reported May’s numbers, but the Global Port Tracker projected that volume rose to 2.09 million TEU, up 8.3 per cent YoY for the highest level since 2.26 million in August 2022.

READ: Port of Los Angeles’ throughput rises 30 per cent in Q1 2024

June is expected to be considerably higher, at 2.11 million TEU, up 15.2 per cent YoY. July is expected at 2.1 million TEU, up 9.5 per cent; August at 2.17 million TEU, up 10.6 per cent; September at 2.06 million TEU, up 1.7 per cent; and October at 2.01 per cent, down 2.3 per cent from the same month last year.

Overall, the first half of 2024 is forecast to tally 12.1 million TEU, a 15 per cent increase from the same period last year. Imports totalled 22.3 million TEU in 2023, down 12.8 per cent from 2022.

NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy, Jonathan Gold, said: “The high level of imports expected over the next several months is an encouraging sign that retailers are confident in strong sales throughout the remainder of the year.

“Unfortunately, retailers are also facing supply chain challenges again, this time with congestion at overseas ports that are affecting operations and shipping rates.”

In the meantime, US ports are facing the risk of strikes as the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) has suspended negotiations over a new labour contract with the United States Maritime Alliance (USMX).

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