U.S. ports covered by Global Port Tracker (GPT) handled 1.93 million TEUs of containers in May, up 8.5% from April but down 19.3% from May 2022, according to a recent report by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates. The ports have not yet reported June numbers, but GPT projects the month at 1.86 million TEUs, down 17.5%. That would bring the first half of 2023 to 10.6 million TEUs, down 22% from the first half of 2022. July is forecast at 1.94 million TEUs, down 11%, and August is forecast at 2.03 million TEU, down 10.1%, but the first month since last October to reach two million TEUs. September is forecast at 1.96 million TEUs, down 3.4%; October at 1.97 million TEUs, down 1.8%, and November at 1.88 million TEUs, up 5.9% for the first year-over-year increase since June 2022. GPT has not yet forecast the full year, but the third quarter is expected to total 5.9 million TEUs, down 8.3% from last year, and the first nine months of the year should total 16.5 million TEUs, down 17.6% year over year. Imports for all of 2022 totaled 25.5 million TEUs, down 1.2% from the annual record of 25.8 million TEUs set in 2021.

The gross domestic product (GDP) in the U.S. grew 2% in the first quarter (January-March). Consumer demand is so stable that consumers continue spending, helping retailers and wholesalers reduce their inventories. These numbers together point toward another quarter of economic growth, which should confirm that the prospect of a recession is looking less likely,” said Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett.

Meanwhile, imports to U.S. major ports are expected to climb toward a peak in August. “We were relieved that labor and management at west coast ports reached a tentative agreement last month, but that doesn’t mean supply chain disruptions are over,” NRF Vice-President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. “The port strike affecting Vancouver and Prince Rupert shouldn’t have a major impact here but could affect some U.S. retailers whose merchandise comes in through Canada and could have a potential ripple effect at other ports.” “Meanwhile, the ability to move goods from U.S. ports to stores could be impacted if UPS and the Teamsters don’t resolve their differences before their contract expires at the end of the month.” “We urge all parties in both negotiations to get back to the table and continue efforts to reach a final deal without engaging in disruptive activity,” he continued. “Seamless supply chains are critical for retailers as we head into the peak shipping season for the winter holidays.”




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