Import cargo volume at the nation's major retail container ports is expected to be up 10% in May with double-digit increases expected into this fall as the U.S. economy improves, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report from the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.


U.S. ports handled 1.07 million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units in March, the latest month for which actual numbers are available. That was up 7% from February, traditionally the slowest month of the year ,and up 12% from March 2009. It was marked the fourth month in a row to show a year-over-year improvement after December broke a 28-month streak of year-over-year monthly declines.  (One TEU is equal to one 20-foot cargo container.)


April was estimated at 1.11 million TEU, a 12% increase over last year. May is forecast at 1.14 million TEU, up 10% from last year; June at 1.19 million TEU, up 17%; July at 1.25 million TEU, up 13 percent; August at 1.32 million TEU, up 14%; and September at 1.35 million TEU, up 19%. The large year-over-year percent increases are partly due to easy comparisons against unusually low numbers last year.


The first half of 2010 is expected to total 6.6 million TEU, up 12%. Imports for 2009 totaled 12.7 million TEU, down 17 percent from 2008¹s 15.2 million TEU and the lowest since the 12.5 million TEU reported in 2003.