World Footwear


Pandemic’s impact on imports is alleviating

Jun 15, 2021 United States
Pandemic’s impact on imports is alleviating
According to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates, imports at the nation’s largest retail container ports saw their busiest April on record
"Vaccine rates are increasing; shoppers are back in stores and retail supply chains are working overtime. There is no shortage of demand from consumers, but there continue to be shortages of labour, equipment, and shipping capacity to meet that demand. Supply chain disruptions, port congestion and rising shipping costs could continue to be challenges through the end of the year”, stated NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold.

Supply chains are finding it difficult to keep up with demand as shipping capacity struggles. A number of vessels taken out of service when volumes were low remain in drydock while others are delayed in congested ports, which face a lack of manpower both because of COVID-19 illnesses and the tight labour market. Many people remain hesitant about returning to work, affecting ports, rail, trucking, and distribution centres”, commented Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett.

US ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 2.15 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEU) in April, the latest month for which final numbers are available: "the busiest April on record and an increase of 33.4% from a year earlier", when most stores were closed by the coronavirus pandemic. April’s results followed 2.27 million TEU in March, which set the record for the most containers imported during a single month since NRF began tracking imports in 2002.

Ports have not reported May numbers yet, but the Global Port Tracker projected the month at 2.32 million TEU, which would be up 51.1% from the same time last year and would beat March’s total to set another new record for the largest number of containers in a single month. June is forecasted at 2.13 million TEU, up by 32.8% year-over-year; July at 2.19 million TEU, up by 14.2%; August at 2.26 million TEU, up by 7.5%; September at 2.14 million TEU, up by 1.7%, and October at 2.07 million TEU, down by 6.5% for the first year-over-year decline since July 2020.

The first half of 2021 is forecasted at 12.8 million TEU, up by 35.3% over the same period in 2020. As with each month this spring, the year-over-year comparison is skewed because of the sharp decline in imports during the first half of last year. But the six-month total would put 2021 on track to easily beat 2020’s full-year total of 22 million TEU, which was up 1.9% over 2019 despite the pandemic.

Global Port Tracker

Produced for NRF by Hackett Associates, provides historical data and forecasts for 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.

About NRF

The National Retail Federation, headquartered in Washington, D.C., is a retail trade association advocating retail, the US' largest private-sector employer, contributing 3.9 trillion US dollars to annual GDP and supporting one in four US jobs – 52 million working Americans.

Image credits: Shunya Koide on Unsplash


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