Imports at the U.S.'s largest retail container ports should hit yet another record in August as consumer demand continues to stretch supply chains and retailers shift from the back-to-school season to the peak shipping season for winter holiday merchandise, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.

U.S. ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 2.15 million TEUs in June, the latest month for which final numbers are available. That was down 7.8 percent from May but up 33.7 percent from a year earlier, when many stores were closed because of the pandemic.

Ports have not reported July numbers yet, but Global Port Tracker projected the month at 2.22 million TEUs, which would be up 15.7 percent from the same time last year.

August is forecast at 2.37 million TEUs, which would be up 12.6 percent year-over-year and top May's 2.33 million TEUs for the largest number of containers imported during a single month since NRF began tracking imports in 2002. August is the beginning of the ''peak season'' when retailers stock up on holiday merchandise each year.

September is forecast at 2.21 million TEUs, up 4.9 percent year-over-year; October at 2.15 million TEUs, down 3 percent for the first year-over-year decline since July 2020; November at 2.07 million TEUs, down 1.5 percent, and December at 2.02 million TEUs, down 4.1 percent.

The first half of 2021 totaled 12.8 million TEUs, up 35.6 percent from the same period last year. For the full year, 2021 is on track to total 25.9 million TEUs, up 17.5 percent over 2020 and a new annual record topping last year's 22 million. Cargo imports during 2020 were up 1.9 percent over 2019 despite the pandemic.




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