Container business at America’s major box terminals continued a steady growth trend that began earlier in the year as US retailers head into the peak shipping season.
Overall import volume is expected to increase 1.2% to 1.61 million teu in September compared with September 2014, according to the latest monthly forecast released 9 September by the National Retail Federation (NRF), a US-based box importer group.
The month-over-month increase in September is forecast to ramp up to a 3.8% increase in October and a 7.9% jump in November.
“After supply chain worries earlier this year, inventories are plentiful this fall,” commented NRF vice president for supply chain Jonathan Gold. “Shoppers should have no worries about finding what they’re looking for as they begin their holiday shopping.”
A significant portion of the increase is surging through the Port of Long Beach, which along with the Port of Los Angeles makes up America’s largest container complex. After increasing 16.2% in July to 345,912 million teu, container imports at Long Beach grew 19.1% to 358,262 teu in August. The import boom helped the port break its own monthly cargo volume record for the second month in a row.
Hackett Associates founder Ben Hackett, who compiles import data for the NRF, said that retailers’ high inventory-to-sales-ratios during the summer appear to be caused by “the flood of cargo” that came after the West Coast dockworkers’ labour dispute ended in March, rather than from weakness in consumer demand.