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16 April 2024

US container traffic seen down by 11.8 per cent in first half of 2009

The biggest US ports for retail volume are the side-by-side facilities at Los Angeles, above, and Long Beach. (AFP)

By Reuters

Retail container traffic at major United States ports is forecast to fall 11.8 per cent in the first half of 2009 as the global economic downturn bites into shipping volume, industry watcher Port Tracker has reported.

In 2008, retail container volume fell 7.9 per cent, according to Port Tracker, issued by the National Retail Federation and consultancy IHS Global Insight. Cargo volume is at its lowest level at US ports since 2004, the report showed.

"Last year was one of the most challenging years retailers have seen, and all indications are that 2009 won't be any better," said Jonathan Gold, National Retail Federation Vice-President.

"Unfortunately, cargo volume at the ports reflects retailers' anticipated sales, and we expect that sales will get worse before they get better. Retailers are only going to import what they can sell."

Port Tracker follows shipping volume and congestion – which is low at all ports due to less activity – at about a dozen US ports. The biggest ports for retail volume are the side-by-side facilities at Los Angeles and Long Beach.

The country's diesel fuel consumption is tied closely to retail shipping traffic as trucks that carry retail and other goods from containers at ports account for nearly all diesel fuel use.

Diesel fuel is about two-thirds of national distillate fuel demand.