“Meanwhile, all U.S. ports covered by Port Tracker… are rated “low” for congestion, the same as last month.

For Immediate Release
Press Contacts:
NRF: J. Craig Shearman (202) 626-8134 shearmanc@nrf.com
Global Insight: Paul Bingham (202) 481-9216 paul.bingham@globalinsight.com

Four Percent Drop Projected for 2008 Retail Container Traffic

WASHINGTON, August 7, 2008 – Cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports is expected to decline 4 percent in 2008 compared with 2007 because of the nation’s slow economy, according to the monthly Port Tracker report released today by the National Retail Federation and Global Insight.

Volume is projected to total 15.8 million Twenty-Foot-Equivalent Units for the year, compared with 16.5 million TEU in 2007. Cargo volume each month this year has been below the same month last year, and is expected to continue to be below last year’s levels in each remaining month except October and December. One TEU is one 20-foot container or its equivalent.

“This has been a very challenging year, and cargo volume reflects consumer demand as retailers work to keep inventory as tight as possible in order to keep supply and demand in balance,” NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. “If merchants can avoid having excess merchandise on hand it means they can avoid the need for unplanned markdowns to clear their shelves, especially after the holiday season.”

U.S. ports surveyed handled 1.3 million TEU in June, the most recent month for which actual numbers are available. The number was down 0.3 percent from May and10.3 percent from June 2007.

July was estimated at 1.37 million TEU, down 5.2 percent from a year ago, and August is forecast at 1.42 million TEU, down 2.7 percent. September is forecast at 1.4 million TEU, down 4.9 percent, but October is forecast to be up 1.1 percent at 1.46 million TEU. October should be the peak month of the year, though it will fall short of the 1.48 million TEU peak for 2007 set last September. November is forecast at 1.37 million TEU, down 0.3 percent, and December at 1.32 million TEU, up 3.4 percent.

Meanwhile, all U.S. ports covered by Port Tracker – Los Angeles/Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle and Tacoma on the West Coast; New York/New Jersey, Hampton Roads, Charleston and Savannah on the East Coast, and Houston on the Gulf Coast – are rated “low” for congestion, the same as last month.

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