According to a new report from the National Retail Federation, imports into the country’s major retail container ports set a new record this spring and are expected to see near-record volumes this month, with retailers bringing in goods ahead of rising prices. costs and other supply chain issues. (NRF).
US ports covered by NRF’s Global Port Tracker, which is produced by Hackett Associates, handled 2.34 million TEUs in March, the latest month for which final figures are available. This was up 10.8% from February and 3.2% year-on-year and also surpassed the previous record of 2.33 million TEUs set in May 2021 for container numbers. imported in a single month since NRF started tracking imports in 2002.
“Retailers are importing record quantities of goods to meet consumer demand, but they also have an incentive to stock up before inflation drives up costs,” said Jonathan Gold, NRF’s vice president for supply chain and customs policy. “Whether it’s transportation costs or the wholesale price of goods, the money retailers save is money that can be used to keep prices low for their customers in times of inflation.
The NRF said retailers are also preparing for any potential disruption due to labor negotiations at the West Coast port, which began on Tuesday. NRF has previously encouraged the parties to stay at the table and not engage in disruption if a new contract is not reached by the time the current deal expires on July 1.
While ports have yet to report April figures, the NRF expects a 5.7% jump from the same month last year, or 2.27 million TEUs. May is expected to reach 2.3 million TEUs, down 1.4% from last year but still the third highest level on record.
“Consumer spending is growing faster than income growth, perhaps shoppers are buying ahead of the expected price hike,” said Hackett Associates founder Ben Hackett. “Importers are doing much the same as they continue to replenish their stocks. This will protect them against potential increased freight costs, further supply chain delays and complications in upcoming labor negotiations at US West Coast ports.
June is forecast at 2.29 million TEUs, up 6.6% from last year; July to 2.31 million TEUs, up 5.3%; August at 2.29 million TEUs, up 0.9%, and September at 2.15 million TEUs, up 0.3%.
The first six months of 2022 are expected to total 13.5 million TEUs, up 5.1% year-on-year. Imports for the whole of 2021 totaled 25.8 million TEUs, an increase of 17.4% from the previous 2020 annual record of 22 million TEUs.
NRF’s Global Port Tracker includes the US ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle and Tacoma on the West Coast; New York/New Jersey, Port of Virginia, Charleston, Savannah, Port Everglades, Miami and Jacksonville on the East Coast, and Houston on the Gulf Coast.