Imports of back-to-school goods will help drive "a small-but-significant increase" in July cargo volumes at the nation's top seaports as retailers receive everything from apparel and accessories to school supplies, according to a report Tuesday.
"Back-to-school and the holidays are the two biggest shopping seasons of the year for retailers, and these numbers reflect that," Jonathan Gold, vice president of supply chain and customs policy for the National Retail Federation, said in a release. "After a year of difficult comparisons in the wake of the West Coast ports slowdown, we're finally starting to see normal trends."
According to information from Global Port Tracker released Tuesday, July's forecast is for major U.S. ports to handle 1.64 million 20-foot equivalent units. That would represent a rise of just 1.4 percent from a year ago. (TEUs, or 20-foot equivalent units, are a common measure of shipping container volumes.)
The Tracker said ports in May handled about 1.63 million TEUs, a nearly 13 percent increase from April's activity and 1.1 percent above May 2015 levels. June was estimated at 1.56 million TEUs, or down 0.5 percent from the year-ago period.
The Port Tracker, produced for the NRF by consulting firm Hackett Associates, tracks container volumes at major ports on the West Coast such as the Los Angeles/Long Beach complex as well as Oakland, Seattle/Tacoma ports. Additionally, it tracks cargo at the New York/New Jersey ports and major seaports in Florida, Georgia, Texas and Virginia.