Retailers Stocking Up for Holiday Spike Cargo Imports

Date: Thursday, September 10, 2020
Source: Sourcing Journal

Retailers Stocking Up for Holiday Spike Cargo Imports

U.S. ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.92 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) in
July. That was down 2.3 percent year-over-year, but up 19.3 percent from June and significantly higher
than the 1.76 million TEU forecast last month.
August containers imports were estimated at 2.06 million TEU, a 6 percent year-over-year increase.
Actual August numbers won’t be known until next month, but that would be an all-time high, beating
the previous record of 2.04 million TEU set in October 2018, the Global Port Track report said.
“It’s important to be careful how much to read into these numbers after all we’ve seen this year, but
retailers are importing far more merchandise for the holidays than we expected even a month ago,”
Jonathan Gold, vice president for supply chain and customs policy at NRF, said. “Some of these imports
are helping replenish inventories that started to run low after consumers unleashed pent-up demand
when stores reopened.”
Cargo imports for September are forecast at 1.89 million TEU, up 1.1 percent year over year. October
shipments are expected to be down 9.2 percent to 1.71 million TEU, while November imports are
forecast to decline 6.8 percent to 1.58 million TEU and December shipments are seen dropping 11
percent to 1.53 million TEU.
Those numbers would bring 2020 to a total of 20.1 million TEU, a drop of 6.7 percent from last year,
still the lowest annual total since 19.1 million TEU in 2016. The forecast numbers call for 7.58 million
TEU during the July-October “peak season” when retailers rush to bring in merchandise for the winter
holidays, making 2020 the third-busiest peak season on record following 7.7 million TEU in 2018 and
7.66 million TEU last year.
“The previous yo-yo pattern of import levels reached a peak in July that appears to have extended into
August,” Hackett Associates founder Ben Hackett said. “Nonetheless, data from around the globe is a
mix, with a weak recovery as Europe struggles with rising Covid-19 numbers, but China’s exports
remain solid…A lot of uncertainty is in play.”
Global Port Tracker provides historical data and forecasts for the U.S. ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach
and Oakland, Calif., and Seattle and Tacoma, Wash., on the West Coast; New York/New Jersey; Port of
Virginia; Charleston, S.C.; Savannah, Ga., and Port Everglades, Miami and Jacksonville, Fla., on the East
Coast, and Houston on the Gulf Coast.

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