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U.S. Ports set container imports record in August 2017

October 13, 2017
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National Retail Federation's (NRF) Global Port Tracker shows US Ports handled a record-setting 1.8 million TEUs in August.

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF)'s Global Port Tracker, major retail ports in the United States set a collective all-time monthly import container record for the second time this summer.  1.8 million TEUs were handled this August, the highest monthly volume recorded since 2000 when the NRF began tracking imports.  American Shipper reported that the August result, which surpassed July’s previous record of 1.78 million TEUs, was also up 5.6 percent from August of last year (2016). 

American Shipper also noted that September figures are starting to surface at ports across the nation, and those numbers are also strong. Reports show Port of Oakland handling 79,135 TEUs of loaded containerized imports during the month, a 12.6 percent jump from September 2016, and the Port of Virginia handling 109,716 TEUs of loaded containerized imports, up 9.5 percent from last September.

Global Port Tracker, which is produced by Hackett Associates for the NRF, covers the U.S. ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle, Tacoma, New York/New Jersey, Hampton Roads, Charleston, Savannah, Port Everglades, Miami and Houston.

Several US ports experienced noteworthy historic achievements in the summer months of 2017.

Port Houston saw 15 percent growth in container volume, for a total of 1,023,159 TEU through June 2017.  Loaded container volume was up by 17 percent compared to this time last year as well, further fueling the overall cargo volume increases.  While the port did suffer a TEU volume drop in August due to Hurricane Harvey, the port is expected to recover, as noted in this statement from Port Houston Chairman Janiece Longoria.

Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) has been steadily breaking records and increasing volumes this year.  From handling recent calls of 13,000-plus TEU vessels COSCO Development and OOCL France to posting record container volumes for August, trade at the Port of Savannah is really heating up.  According to the GPA, even in the wake of Hurricane Erma, Savannah experienced “… its busiest August on record and the Authority’s second busiest month ever for container trade, Savannah handled 348,297 twenty-foot equivalent container units, an increase of 5.3 percent or 17,451 TEUs compared to the same month a year ago.” The growth in Savannah is truly remarkable.

Globally, we have seen container volumes on the rise for much of 2017, with container throughput picking up pace compared to 2015 and 2016 numbers.  Drewry reported that nearly all major trade routes, including Asia-North American West Coast and Asia-North American East Coast, have made contributions to the volume growth.