U.S. containerized import volume climbed 7.8 percent year-over-year in April 2014, the second consecutive month of increases and the third increase in 2014 thus far, according to advance figures from PIERS, the data division of JOC Group Inc.
Containerized imports totaled 1.59 million TEUs in April, the highest monthly volume since August 2013. April’s import volume also jumped 10.8 percent from volume in March, which was a strong month, up 14.7 percent year-over-year. Import volume in the first four months of 2014 is up 4.7 percent from volume in the same period of 2013.
The most recent Global Port Tracker report from the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates estimated a 6.1 percent year-over-year increase for April and projects slower growth - 3.5 percent - in May.
“Retailers are shrugging off the effects of adverse weather, as evidenced by the strong March and April figures, and the labor market continues to moderately improve,” said JOC Economist Mario Moreno in the April report of JOC Insights. “The contraction in the home sales market, however, could pose some risk to the inbound volume of furniture and other home goods.”
Leading the gains among the top 25 imports were plastic products, rising 43 percent; fabrics and woodenware followed, both up 35 percent. The largest decline among imports was seen in menswear, with a 21 percent year-over-year drop; apparel followed, down 15 percent; computers were down 13 percent.
Eastbound trans-Pacific imports increased 5.9 percent year-over-year to 1,125,542 TEUs in April.
The largest regional increase came from the west coast of South America, which climbed 20 percent in volume to 41,443 TEUs in April 2014. The only regional drop was in imports from the Middle East, which slipped 3 percent to 7,847 TEUs.
Among the Top 25 source countries, shipments from Chile showed the largest increase in April, up 39 percent year-over-year to 20,522 TEUs. Shipments from Spain totaled 17,808 TEUs in April, up 30 percent year-over-year. Turkish exports to the U.S. in April totaled 12,403 TEUs, rising 26 percent year-over-year. U.S. imports from Honduras and Hong Kong were down the most, both off 10 percent year-over-year to 18,435 TEUs and 28,341 TEUs, respectively. Costa Rica followed with a drop of 4 percent to 14,994 TEUs.