Global inbound is predicted to reach a two-year high by the summer, according to new data from the Global Port Tracker released by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates. The data shows that in April, U.S. ports handled 2.02 million TEU. a TEU is the equivalent of one 20-foot container. 

In May, VMAIL reported that the NRF was confident that inbound cargo, domestically was trending upward. 

The Global Port Tracker, which is produced for NRF by Hackett Associates, provides historical data and forecasts for U.S. ports. Recent data shows inbound cargo moving in a positive direction, climbing 4.6 percent from March and up 13.2 percent year-over-year.

“Consumers are continuing to spend more than last year, and retailers are stocking up to meet demand, especially as we head into peak shipping season,” said Jonathan Gold, the NRF’s vice president for supply chain and customs policy. “The high level of imports expected over the next several months is an encouraging sign that retailers are confident in strong sales throughout the remainder of the year. Unfortunately, retailers are also facing supply chain challenges again, this time with congestion at overseas ports that are affecting operations and shipping rates,” Gold said. 

The Global Port Tracker projected that volume would rise by 2.09 million TEU in May, up 8.3 percent year-over-year, for the highest level since 2.26 million in August 2022. June numbers are expected to climb higher, reaching 2.11 million TEU, up 15.2 percent year-over-year.

Meanwhile, July is forecast to reach 2.1 million TEU, up 9.5 percent; while August is slated to hit 2.17 million TEU, up 10.6 percent. The Global Port Tracker predicts this rise will taper off slightly in September falling to 2.06 million TEU, but will still be up 1.7 percent, and October will fall to 2.01 percent, down 2.3 percent from the same month last year.

“Imports of containerized goods at U.S. ports are booming, with particularly strong growth on the West Coast,” according to Hackett Associates founder Ben Hackett. “In the last couple of years, we have witnessed a flattened peak season that has stretched out the volume of imports over extra months versus the strong, consolidated surge seen in the past. 

“Reasons for this range from retailers restocking following strong sales after the pandemic to trying to get ahead of increased tariffs on goods from China set to take effect in August, and ensuring sufficient inventories for the holiday season amid strong consumer demand.”