Posts Tagged ‘imports’

Imports Likely to Fall Below 2021 Levels

September 14, 2022

The National Retail Federal said last week that imports at the nation’s major container ports are expected to fall below last year’s levels for the remainder of 2022.

“Consumers are still buying, but the cargo surge we saw during the past two years appears to be slowing down,” NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said in a news release.

Gold said in a statement that cargo levels are above pre-pandemic levels, but the rate of growth has slowed into negative numbers compared with unusually high volumes of 2021.

“The number of vessels waiting to dock on the West Coast has been reduced to near-normal,” the trade group said.

“But with the switch of some cargo to the East Coast, congestion and pressure on the ports has shifted to the East Coast. The inland supply chain, particularly rail, continues to face difficulties that have resulted in the delay of containers leaving ports, causing terminal congestion that impacts the ability of carriers to discharge their cargo.”

U.S. ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 2.18 million 20-foot equivalent units — one 20-foot container or its equivalent — in July.

That was down 3.1 percent from June and down 0.4 percent from July 2021 — only the third year-over-year decline in two years and the first since December 2021.

Imports Expected to Slow in 2022 Second Half

August 10, 2022

Imports are expected to slow in the second half of this year the National Retail Federation predicted this week.

That will go a long way toward easing the congestion that has hindered supply chains in the past year. Nonetheless, NRF said that imports for 2022 should be a net gain over 2021.

NRF projects that 2022 retail sales will grow between 6 percent to 8 percent over 2021. Sales rose 7 percent in the year’s first half.

The slow down would come on the heels of record-setting imports last spring at North American container ports.

“Retail sales are still growing, but the economy is slowing down, and that is reflected in cargo imports,” said NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold in a statement.

Gold said supply-chain challenges are not yet past, citing the potential for labor strife as labor negotiations at the West Coast ports and the freight railroads continue.

The contract between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association expired July 1, and many retailers brought in cargo early and shifted to East and Gulf Coast ports to avoid any potential disruptions related to contract negotiations.

The Port of Oakland was briefly shut down in late July by protests by independent truckers over a new state law that they say seeks to eliminate independent owner-operators.

Imports Expected to be Near Record Levels

June 11, 2022

The National Retail Federation said this week that imports this summer are expected to be at near record volumes.

The trade group said retailers are importing large quantities of goods to meet consumer demand, including back-to-school supplies.

Factories in China that make some of these goods are ramping up production as COVID-19 lockdown policies have been relaxed.

One potential complication is that a labor agreement with West Coast port workers expires July 1.

NRF port activity figures show estimates of 2.31 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in May, down 0.9 percent from May 2021, the overall second-busiest month on record.

However, the trade group predicts that June will see 2.31 million TEUs, up 7.5 percent year compared with the same month in 2021.

In April, the latest month for which statistics are available, showed U.S. ports handled 2.26 million TEUs, down 3.6 percent from March 2022’s 2.34 million TEUs, which is also the record for the number of containers imported in a single month since NRF began tracking imports in 2002.

July is forecast at 2.3 million TEUs, an increase of 4.8 percent, while August is forecast at 2.28 million TEUs, an increase of 0.2 percent.

All percentage predictions are based on the same month in 2021.

The first six months of 2022 are expected to total 13.5 million TEUs, up 5.3 percent from the same time period in 2021.

Retail Imports Expected to Remain High

February 14, 2022

The National Retail Federation said in a recent report that imports are expected to remain high at U.S. ports through the first half of 2022.

The report said ports won’t see the “dramatic growth” of a year ago but strong consumer demand is expected to keep import volumes steady.

“Last year set a new bar for imports, and the numbers remain high as consumers continue to spend despite COVID-19 and inflation,” said NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold in a news release.

“The slowdown in cargo growth will be welcome as the supply chain continues to try to adapt to these elevated volumes.”

Gold noted that traffic through ports continues to be slow with 40 ships waiting to dock on Feb. 9 at the Port of Los Angeles. Some cargo will sit at a port for up to a month before it is unloaded.

The situation is expected to be exacerbated soon by shutdowns of Asian factories for the Lunar New Year.

U.S. ports covered by the Global Port Tracker are projected to handle 13 million 20-foot equivalent units during the first half of 2022, an increase of 1.5 percent over the same period in 2021.

The report said ports handled 2.09 milion TEUs in December 2021, a decline of 1.2 percent compared with November 2021 and a drop of 1 percent on a year-over-year basis.

Imports Heading for Record Levels

December 10, 2021

The National Retail Federal said this week that it expects 2021 imports to set records for largest volume and fastest growth on record.

The trade group said retail imports for 2021 are expected to total 26 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs), up 18.3 percent over last year and the highest number since NRF began tracking imports in 2002.

If those projections hold up, they would surpass last year’s record of 22 million, a 1.9 percent increase.

In a news release, NRF said the highest growth was 16.7 percent in 2010, when the economy was recovering from the Great Recession of 2008.

NRF officials said that despite double-digit growth of imports, single-month year-over-year growth has remained in the single digits and is expected to stay that way through the first quarter of 2022.

Imports Expected to Remain High for Rest of Year

November 10, 2021

The National Retail Federation reported this week that congestion continues at the nation’s ports as imports continue tat high levels.

It said more than 70 ships were waiting to dock at ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach in California and that imposts are expected to remain at near-record levels for the remainder of the year as retailers seek to stock shelves for the Christmas holiday shopping season.

The trade association said retail volume this year is expected to rise 10.5 percent compared with 2020 figures.

The average wait during the past two months for ships to dock at the Port of Los Angeles has been two weeks. That has created a cascading effect of delaying the arrival of ships at other ports.

Some shipping lines have diverted vessels to other ports, but the NRF report said congestion is building nationwide.

NRF projects that October will prove to be one of the busiest months on record for imports with volume reaching 2.19 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs), although that would be down 1.22 percent from October 2020..

However, NRF officials said 2021 retail numbers are much higher than 2020 due to continued economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first half of 2021 totaled 12.8 million TEUs, up over 35 percent over 2020 levels with the current year expected to surpass the 2020 mark of 22 million TEUs.

Ports Expand Hours to Address Supply Chain Congestion

October 14, 2021

In an effort to unclog congestion in the global supply chain two West Coast Ports will work around the clock unloading containers and putting them on trucks and trains.

The ports are located in Los Angeles and Long Beach, which handle 40 percent of the nation’s imports.

An announcement from the Biden administration said such shippers as Walmart, UPS and FedEx are expanding their working hours.

Rail operations at the ports have long been 24 hours a day.

Imports Remain at Near Record Levels

October 9, 2021

The National Retail Federation said this week that imports at the largest U.S. retail container ports are expected to remain at near-record levels but could see a slight dip from last year’s unusually high numbers as congestion slows the movement of backed-up cargo.

“The cargo is there for larger gains at several ports but congestion issues are impacting fluid operations,” said NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold.

“Ships will eventually get unloaded but the pressure is on for everyone to work together to get the containers out as quickly as possible.”

The NRF report said the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed the loading of U.S.-bound ships, while shortages of equipment, labor and outbound truck and rail capacity continue to cause congestion at U.S. ports.

Nearly 75 ships were waiting to enter the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, up from around 25 a month earlier. The backups have begun spreading to East Coast ports, too.

U.S. ports covered by NRF’s Global Port Tracker handled 2.27 million twenty-foot equivalent units  in August.

That was up 3.5 percent from July and up 7.8 percent compared with the same period in 2020. It also tied March as the second-busiest month since NRF began tracking imports in 2002.

May remains the busiest month on record at 2.33 million TEUs.

U.S. Imports Set Record in March

May 11, 2021

The National Retail Federation reported this week that Imports at U.S. container ports set a record this spring and volume during the first half of 2021 is expected to be a third higher than in 2020 as the economy continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

U.S. ports handled 2.27 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in March, an increase of 21.2 percent over February.

That is a record for the number of containers logged during a single month since NRF began tracking imports in 2002.

The previous record of 2.21 million TEUs was set last October.

March volume was up a record 64.9 percent over the same month in 2020 but the growth rate was artificially high because many Asian factories had shut down due to the pandemic at this point last year and most U.S. stores had been ordered to close.

First-half volume is forecast to be up 33.9 percent versus the same period in 2020. As with March, the growth is skewed because of the sharp decline in imports during the first half of 2020.

However, the projected six-month total of 12.7 million TEUs would put 2021 on track to beat 2020’s full-year total of 22 million TEUs, which was up 1.9 percent over 2019 despite the pandemic.

Imports Expects to Stay High Through Summer

April 9, 2021

The National Retail Federation expects imports at U.S. container ports to continue to be robust through the end of the summer.

Imports began surging in summer 2020 in response to increased consumer demand.

The trade group said imports hit a low point in March 2020, when they fell to 1.37 million 20-foot equivalent units as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold.

Imports hit a then-record 2.1 million TEUs in August 2020 as the economy began rebounding and peaked at 2.21 million TEUs in October 2020.

NRF expects import volume to remain at or above the 2 million-TEU mark for 11 out of 13 months by this coming August.

Before 2020, monthly imports had reached the 2 million-TEU mark only once, in October 2018.

The trade association predicted that May import volume will be 2 million TEUs, which would achieve a 30.6 percent year-over-year increase.

June volume is projected at 2.01 million TEUs, a 24.9 percent gain; July volume predicted to be be 2.04 million TEUs, a 6.5 percent rise; and August volume is forecast at 2.08 million TEUs, a 1.2 percent decline.

In a news release, NRF said the surge in imports has resulted in months of backups at ports, which have faced labor shortages because of COVID-19 infections and equipment shortages due to high volume.