According to the Global Port Tracker report published today by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates, import cargo volume at the country’s major container ports is rebounding from a nearly three-year low in February but is anticipated to stay well below last year’s levels heading into this autumn.
Although retail sales are anticipated to rise this year, NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said that consumer demand is not as intense as it was the previous two years. “Although import volumes have decreased, there are still supply chain difficulties, such as a lack of truckers and the difficulty in returning empty containers to terminals. In light of recent revelations of progress in the West Coast port labour negotiations, but we’ll keep a tight eye on things until both sides have approved a new agreement.
Ben Hackett, founder of Hackett Associates, stated that “with economic uncertainty continuing, the impact on trade is clear,” pointing to recent bank failures, high inflation that hasn’t subsided, and increased interest rates from the Federal Reserve. Since late last year, most ports’ annual import volumes have been dropping, and declining exports from China indicate the slowdown in consumer demand. In the first half of this year, our prediction calls for a bigger drop in imports than we anticipated last month. Our opinion is that until inflation rates and inventory surpluses are decreased, imports will stay below recent levels.
U.S. In March, the most recent month for which final figures are available, ports tracked by Global Port Tracker handled 1.62 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units, or one 20-foot container or its equivalent. Although down 30.6% year over year, that was up 5% from February, which witnessed the lowest levels since May 2020.Although ports haven’t yet released their April figures, Global Port Tracker predicted that the month will have 1.73 million TEU, down 23.4% from the previous year. May’s anticipated TEU volume is 1.83 million, down 23.5% from 2.4 million TEU in 2018, which set a new record for the most containers imported in a single month. Forecasts for the following months: 1.9 million TEU in June, 2.01 million TEU in July, 2.04 million TEU in August, and 1.9 million TEU in September. 1.96 million TEU, a 3.4% decrease. The relatively high volumes in the previous year distort the significant year-over-year declines.
Previously predicted to be 10.8 million TEU, the first half of 2023 is now projected to be 10.4 million TEU, a decrease of 22.8% from the first half of 2022. Global Port Tracker has not yet made predictions for the entire year, but the third quarter is anticipated to total 6 million TEU, down 7.2% from the same period in 2017, and the first nine months of the year are anticipated to total 16.5 million TEU, down 17.8% from the same period last year. 2022 had a total import volume of 25.5 million TEU, which was a 1.2% decrease from the previous year high of 25.8 million TEU established in 2021.
Hackett Associates’ Global Port Tracker, created for NRF, offers historical For the U.S. ports of New York/New Jersey, Port of Virginia, Charleston, Savannah, Port Everglades, Miami, and Jacksonville on the East Coast; Los Angeles/Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle, and Tacoma on the West Coast; Houston on the Gulf Coast; and Charleston, Savannah, and Port Everglades on the South Coast.