Container Cargo Imports Not as Robust as Last Year

Slow growth in consumer spending and high inventory levels at stores across the country are affecting import cargo volumes at the nation’s ports.

During April, cargo imports at the major ports were estimated to be 1.5 million containers, down 0.6 percent from the same month last year, according to the National Retail Federation’s “Global Port Tracker” report, prepared by Hackett Associates.

But March cargo numbers were down more dramatically with cargo imports plummeting 23.7 percent from the previous year when the West Coast ports were just revving back up to normal following a dockworker slowdown during contract negotiations with their employers.

Through September, cargo imports are expected to be slower compared to last year. May is forecast to be down 2.7 percent to 1.57 million containers; June is expected to be off by 0.8 percent to 1.56 million containers; July is predicted to decrease 0.6 percent to 1.61 million containers; August will see a bigger dip of minus 3.7 percent to 1.62 million containers; and September will decline 3.9 percent to 1.56 million containers.

“Consumer spending is still growing but not as fast as in the past,” said Ben Hackett, founder of Hackett Associates. “A more cautious approach is being taken.”