America’s largest retail trade group is reducing its growth forecast for summer container imports as port business returns to normal following ratification of a west coast dockworker contract.
The National Retail Federation (NRF) adjusted down box import growth estimates between June and September in its latest monthly Global Port Tracker, released 9 June.
“Despite some lingering labour issues, the volume of cargo and the rate of growth have both largely settled down,” commented NRF VP for supply chain Jonathan Gold.
The lack of a dockworker contract on US west coast container terminals between July 2014 and February 2015 led to significant slowdowns, congestion, and delays. The terminals and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union voted to ratify a new five-year contract in May.
“We’re hoping to see reasonably normal back-to-school and holiday seasons this year now that the tensions of contract negotiations are behind us,” Gold added.
Major US container terminals handled 1.52 million teu in April, the latest after-the-fact numbers available from NRF. That was down 12.4% from March, when backlogged cargo volume surged following the end of the labour dispute. April volumes were up 6.1% from April 2014.
June imports are forecast to grow 2.6% to 1.52 million teu compared with the same month a year ago. June’s forecast is down from the 3.7% growth that NRF had predicted in May.
Year-on-year monthly growth between July and September is expected to increase between 0.6 and 4.9% compared with the same time last year.