According to the most recent edition of the Port Tracker report, released today by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and shipping consultancy firm Hackett Associates.
The ports studied in the report include: Los Angeles/Long Beach; Oakland; Tacoma; Seattle; Houston; New York/New Jersey; Hampton Roads; Charleston and Savannah; Miami; Jacksonville; and Port Everglades, based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
The report’s authors explained that cargo import figures are not directly correlated to retail sales or employment, as they only count the number of cargo containers brought into the country, not the value of the goods. inside, adding that the amount of imported goods provides a rough barometer of traders’ expectations.
“As we enter 2022, the biggest question was when the supply chain would return to normal,” said NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy, Jonathan Gold, in a press release. “Unfortunately, we still don’t have a definitive answer. Congestion at west coast ports has eased, but congestion at some east coast ports is increasing. Ports aren’t as overwhelmed as they were a year ago, but they’re still very busy moving near-record cargo volumes.
For February, the most recent month for which data is available, import volume – at 2.11 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) – fell 2.3% from January and increased by 13 % per year.
For the following months, Port Tracker has published the following projections:
March, at 2.27 million TEU, corresponding to March 2021;
April, at 2.13 million TEUs, down 1.1% per year;
May, to 2.21 million TEUs, down 5.3% per year;
June, at 2.26 million TEUs, up 5.2% per year;
July, at 2.32 million TEUs, up 5.6% per year; and
August to 2.35 million TEUs, up 3.3% annually, which would mark a new record for the number of containers imported in a single month since 2002, when NRF began tracking imports (the current record is 2.33 million TEU set in May 2021)
Port Tracker pegged the first six months of 2022 at 13.1 million TEUs, which would mark an annual gain of 2.5%.
In a recent interview with LM, NRF’s Gold explained that consumer demand remains high and continues to drive strong import volumes.
“Throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen a $1 trillion swing, in consumer spending, from services to goods,” he said. “The consumer is still there to shop online or in-store as things reopen and will continue to do more and more. I think consumers are looking to spend more on services now that all mask mandates are gone and things are reopening. But inflation and gas prices are also a factor.
As for Port Tracker data in the coming months, he said gains are expected but not to the same extent in 2021, which has often seen double-digit increases, tied to more subdued year-over-year comparisons.
Hackett Associates founder Ben Hackett wrote in the report that the number of ships waiting to be unloaded in Los Angeles and Long Beach has dropped significantly, with relatively few waiting for long periods of time and most being larger ships. small ones with a capacity of less than 10,000 TEU.
“Given Shanghai’s virtual shutdown for COVID-19 testing and the resulting sharp decline in export production, there are now several large vessels waiting to enter the port to unload containers. empty and load export boxes,” he added. “Waiting on this side of the Pacific will help ease pressure from ship arrivals at Los Angeles area terminals. Our projection is that throughput on the West Coast will remain steady to strong through most of April. The reduction in COVID in the United States is also helping to ease pressure on the transportation supply chain.
He also observed that given the recent COVID-19 shutdowns, a main concern he has is that the supply of goods from China will decline as it did in 2020, adding that the capacity of Shipping remains stable and sufficient, and is expected to increase as congestion in China and along US shores slows.
About the Author
Jeff Berman, Group News Editor Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics management, Modern material handlingand Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight forwarding and material handling industries on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman