Peak Season Surcharge

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Import volume at major U.S. retail container ports is expected to rise 1.7 percent month-over-month in August, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker, published by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.

Furthermore, the report said that import volume should continue to see gains through the holiday season and remainder of the year, ending with a 2.4 percent increase over 2012.

“As the economy continues to slowly improve, retailers are stocking up for their most important sales season of the year,” said Jonathan Gold, NRF’s vice president for supply chain and customs policy, in a written statement. “Merchants have been very cautious so far this year, but our forecasts show that they plan to make up for it in the next few months.”

U.S. ports followed by Global Port Tracker have seen year-over-year declines in cargo every month since March with the exception of May, when import volume rose 1.6 percent. In June, the ports handled 1.36 million 20-foot-equivalent units, down 2.7 percent from May and 1.8 percent from June 2012. July was estimated at 1.4 million TEUs, down 0.6 percent year-over-year. However, the trend is expected to change in August, which was forecasted at 1.45 million TEUs.

“Trade at the ports continues to remain positive, confirming our view that the economy remains on a slow but steady course of recovery,” said Ben Hackett, founder of Hackett Associates. “The question is whether importers are building up stock ahead of expected sales demand or in response to recently announced freight rate increases.”

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