The impact of Covid-19 at major U.S. retail container ports appeared to ease slightly in April, with projected imports remaining below last year’s levels but not as much as previously forecast, according to the Global Port Tracker report released today by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and consulting firm Hackett Associates.
“The numbers we’re seeing are still below last year, but are better than what we expected a month ago,” NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said in a release. “It may still be too soon to say but we’ll take that as a sign that the situation could be slowly starting to improve. Consumers want to get back to shopping, and as more people get back to work, retailers want to be sure their shelves are stocked.”
Despite the slight improvement, the report predicted that the U.S. economy is not likely to stage a sudden comeback, but may be launching a slow, steady buildup. “Imports are erratic, with one month up and the next down,” Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett said in the study. “Getting 40 million people back to work will take time, especially with many fearful of catching the virus and staying home. That makes a rapid return to an economic boom unlikely.”
U.S. ports covered in the study handled 1.61 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in April, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was down 7.8% from a year earlier, but up 17% from a four-year low seen in March and significantly better than the 1.51 million TEU previously expected.
The report covers the U.S. ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle and Tacoma on the West Coast; New York/New Jersey, Port of Virginia, Charleston, Savannah, Port Everglades, Miami and Jacksonville on the East Coast, and Houston on the Gulf Coast.
In other measures of U.S. container volumes cited in the report: