Imports at the nation’s major container ports are expected to fall to their lowest level in nearly two years by the end of 2022, even though retail sales continue to grow, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released today.
The report indicates the holiday season has already started for some shoppers and, thanks to pre-planning, retailers have plenty of merchandise on hand to meet demand. Many retailers brought in merchandise early this year to beat rising inflation and ongoing supply chain disruption issues. Despite the lower volumes, retailers are still experiencing challenges along the supply chain, including U.S. ports and intermodal rail yards.
August was the first month in two years that did not set a record for import volumes.
“The growth in U.S. import volume has run out of steam, especially for cargo from Asia,” Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett said. “Recent cuts in carriers’ shipping capacity reflect falling demand for merchandise from well-stocked retailers even as consumers continue to spend. Meanwhile, the closure of factories during China’s October Golden Week holiday along with the Chinese government’s continuing ‘Zero Covid’ policy have impacted production, reducing demand for shipping capacity from that side of the Pacific as well.”
The cargo data comes as NRF forecasts that 2022 retail sales will grow between 6% and 8% over 2021. Sales were up 7.5% during the first eight months of the year.