The labor dispute between the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore Warehouse Union created a backlog of cargo along the West Coast ports in the United States. This backlog created a port crisis, which stalled imports in the United States for much of 2014. In 2015, this port crisis has begun to ease, and retailers are reporting a rise in imports in the middle of 2015, after a slow start to the year, as a result.
March Volume Expected to Rise
The National Retail Federation’s Global Port Tracker indicated that February 2015, the last month which has presented data, showed 1.2 million twenty-foot equivalent units through the NRF’s ports. This number was down 10.3 percent from January and 3.6 percent from February of 2014, a problem created by the port crisis. However, February is historically one of the slowest months of the year, and retailers are estimating a much higher volume as the year progresses.
In March, volume is expected to be 1.48 million twenty-foot equivalent units. This is a 13.5 percent increase over the 2014 numbers. April is expected to rise even more, up 8 percent over last year with a rate of 1.55 million units.
The Reason for This Increase
According to Global Port Tracker, this increase is due to three factors. First, container import volume has increased, leading to a rise. Second, congestion at the ports is lower, allowing for more units to come through. Finally, gate operations are improved over last year. Overall, these are positive signs for global traders looking to use these West Coast ports in the coming months. The market for the products they are trading is on the rise.