Congestion at container ports should ease temporarily

Washington – Import volumes remain high and are expected to grow in the first half of 2022 – but not at the explosive pace of last year, according to the latest Global Port Tracker report.

While the modest growth should provide some room for relief in the country’s congested container ports, the report from the National Retail Federation (FRN) and Hackett Associates have warned that experts expect continued disruption throughout 2022.

Lunar New Year factory closures in Asia this month will bring temporary relief, says Hackett Associates founder Ben Hackett. But congestion continues at ports on both US coasts, and the Port of Los Angeles alone has about 40 ships waiting to dock. As more and more ships arrive every day, unloading delays can reach up to a month.

“[B]The ackups cannot be erased quickly as long as terminals continue to face a lack of space caused by the inability of the supply chain to efficiently move goods from terminals to their final destinations. A shortage of equipment, worker availability and storage space in distribution centers and warehouses across the country remains problematic, as does the export of empty containers to Asia,” he said. declared.

The fact that volumes are not falling reflects continued consumer demand, according to Jonathan Gold, NRF’s vice president for supply chain and customs policy.

“Last year set a new bar for imports, and numbers remain high as consumers continue to spend despite Covid-19 and inflation,” he added.

U.S. ports covered by Global Port Tracker are expected to handle 13 million twenty-foot equivalents – a 20-foot container or its equivalent – ​​in the first half of 2022, up 1.5% from 12.8 million. TEUs processed during the same period in 2021 In contrast, the first half of 2021 saw a record increase of 35.7% compared to the unusually slow first six months of 2020, when many Asian factories and American stores were closed in due to the pandemic.

The ports handled 2.09 million TEUs in December 2021, the last month for which final figures are available. That was down 1.2% from November and down 1% year-over-year. Imports for all of 2021 totaled 25.8 million TEUs, a 17.4% increase from the 2020 record of 22 million TEUs that was set despite the pandemic.

Ports have yet to report January figures, but Global Port Tracker projected the month at 2.15 million TEUs, up 4.4% year-on-year. February is expected at 2.04 million TEUs, up 8.7%; March to 2.12 million TEUs, down 6.7%; April to 2.19 million TEUs, up 2%; May at 2.27 million TEUs, down 2.6%, and June at 2.26 million TEUs, up 5.2%.

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