Traffic At U.S. Ports Remains Robust

The level of goods coming from overseas expected to remain high throughout the summer.
Greg Sleter
Associate Publisher/Executive Editor
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U.S. Ports

Retailers working to meet continued strong consumer demand coupled with on-going concerns about supply chain issues are key factors in the high traffic levels at the nation’s major ports.

The monthly Global Tracker report from the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates shows year-over-year import growth. U.S. ports covered in the report handled 2.26 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units – one 20-foot container or its equivalent – in April, up 5.1% when compared to April of 2021.

While ports have not yet reported May numbers, Global Port Tracker projects the month at 2.31 million TEU, down 0.9% from 2.33 million TEU in May 2021, the second-busiest month on record. June is also forecast at 2.31 million TEU, up 7.5% year over year, which would leave May and June tied for the third-highest volume.

“We’re in for a busy summer at the ports,” said Jonathan Gold, vice president for Supply Chain and Customs Policy with the NRF. “Back-to-school supplies are already arriving, and holiday merchandise will be right behind them. And the big wild card is what will happen with West Coast labor negotiations with the current contract set to expire on July 1.”

Additionally, imports from China should start to grow again as the Chinese government has relaxed its COVID Zero policy and begun to release the population of Shanghai from a months-long lockdown.

July is forecast at 2.3 million TEU, up 4.8% from last year; August at 2.28 million TEU, up 0.2%; September at 2.13 million TEU, down 0.4%, and October also at 2.13 million TEU, down 3.8%. 

The first six months of 2022 are expected to total 13.5 million TEU, up 5.3% year-over-year. Imports for all of 2021 totaled 25.8 million TEU, a 17.4% increase over 2020’s previous annual record of 22 million TEU