By Mark Edward Nero
The Northwest Seaport Alliance, a marine cargo operating partnership of the Port of Seattle and Port of Tacoma, says that strong import volumes last month suggest peak shipping season is just around the corner.
Full imports jumped nearly 12 percent last month compared to July 2015, according to data released Aug. 17.
Full export containers also followed last month’s trend, surging more than 17 percent month over month on the strength of agricultural products. Total container volumes in July edged up two percent month over month.
Cargo owners are forecasting a three to five percent increase in volume during peak season, when retailers build up inventories ahead of the holiday shopping season.
Anticipating the increase, the Seaport Alliance earlier this month launched a program to help extend gate hours at international terminals to reduce congestion and keep cargo flowing through the peak.
Through the first seven months of the year, total Seattle-Tacoma container volumes are flat, at just about two million TEUs. However, full import container volumes grew nearly three percent year-to-date to 760,923 TEUs, while full exports marked a nearly 13 percent year-to-date gain to 542,258 TEUs.
Domestic volumes remain sluggish, down three percent year-to-date to 448,357 TEUs, something the Seaport Alliance blames on the weakened Alaskan economy.
In other cargo news, auto imports dipped nearly three percent year to date in July, and breakbulk cargo continues to struggle, down 33 percent due to the strong dollar and slowing economic growth in China.