Container volume at major East Coast ports has set new records this year, including the ports of New York-New Jersey, Savannah and Baltimore.
Piers data indicate that seven of the 10 fastest-growing ports in the U.S. are located on the East Coast. The fast-growing port, Savannah, clocked a 33 percent jump to 805,571 TEUs (the amount of cargo that fits into a 20-foot-long container), the largest-volume increase of any major container port in the first six months of this year.
Zepol, another import and export trade data firm, reports similar findings: double-digit percent volume increases at all of the major East Coast ports from January through mid-July, versus a year earlier. Based on Zepol's calculations, Savannah is up 31 percent; Miami up 21 percent; Charleston, South Carolina, up 15 percent; Norfolk-Newport News, Virginia, up 10 percent; and the New York-New Jersey complex up 12 percent.
Gulf Coast ports also garnered notably more business, with Houston's container volumes jumping 23 percent.
Read MoreWest Coast ports make a comeback after slowdowns
"There has been a shift, and some of that volume is going to stick because Houston and the Southeast ports were able to handle it," said Larry Gross, president of Gross Transportation Consulting and a senior consultant for FTR Transportation Intelligence.
Gross pointed out that while West Coast congestion boosted business for other regions dramatically, the shift east represents an acceleration of a trend that's been gradually taking root for years. In 2002, a devastating lockout at the West Coast ports served as a wake-up call to shippers importing from Asia. "What freight forwarders realized is they could no longer rely on a single port of entry and began to go to a four- or five-corner strategy," Gross said.
That four-corner strategy consists of multiple trade routes around the United States, with points of entry in the Northwest, the Southwest, the Southeast and the Northeast that serve as hedges against unforeseen circumstances or uncontrollable issues—like a labor lockout—in one region.