Stacked containers are shown as ships unload their cargo at the Port of Los Angeles in Los Angeles, California, U.S. November 22, 2021. REUTERS/Mike Blake

U.S. Container Imports Near Pre-Pandemic Levels in November

Mike Schuler
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December 12, 2022

U.S. container imports fell a whopping 19.4% in November compared to the same month last year as economic turmoil, a reduction in retail transactions, and high fuel costs are finally starting to leave their mark on import volumes, according to logistics technology firm Descartes Systems Group (Nasdaq: DSGX).

Compared to October 2022, U.S. container import volumes were down 12% last month, to 1.95 million TEUs, which is only 2.8% higher than pre-pandemic in November 2019, Descartes reports.

Credit: Descartes

U.S. container imports from China continued their downward trend in November, falling 11.1% year over year to 686,514 TEUs, and down 31.5% from 2022’s high in August, according to Descartes. However, the reports notes that of the top 10 countries importing into the U.S., Vietnam, Thailand and Germany fared worse than China on a percentage basis last month compared to October.

“Comparing fall imports in 2022 to the previous six years, November would have been expected to be lower than October; however, November 2022 had the greatest October-to-November decline since 2016 at 12%,” said Chris Jones, EVP Industry & Services at Descartes. “The November U.S. container import data reaffirms that the pressure on supply chains and logistics operations has begun to lift, but there are still a number of issues that may cause further disruptions in 2023.”

Descartes’ report also highlighted that port delays continue to decrease nationally, but major East and Gulf Coast ports still have extended wait times versus major West Coast ports. “Key economic indicators during this period paint a conflicting picture about their impact on future import volumes and, combined with COVID, the Russia/Ukraine conflict and the West Coast labor situation, continue to point to further disruptions and challenging global supply chain performance going into 2023,” Descartes said.

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