National Retail Federation Reports Import Cargo Continues to Rise Despite Red Sea Disruptions; Jonathan Gold and Ben Hackett Share
WASHINGTON - Despite the attacks on ships in the Red Sea spurring disruptions at major United States ports, the National Retail Federation (NRF) reported that inbound cargo volume is expected to see year-over-year increases through the first half of the year.
“Only about 12 percent of the U.S.-bound cargo comes through the Suez Canal but the situation in the Red Sea is bringing volatility and uncertainty that are being felt around the globe,” NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. “U.S. retailers are working to mitigate the impact of delays and increased costs. However, the longer the disruptions occur, the bigger impact this could have. More needs to be done among partners and allies to ensure the safety of vessels and crews in order to avoid yet another year of supply chain disruption.”
As Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett shared, carriers are using a surplus of capacity built up during the pandemic to ease the impact as voyages are diverted around the Cape of Good Hope or to the U.S. West Coast, and improvements are already being seen.
U.S. ports covered by NRF and Hackett Associates’ Global Port Tracker handled 1.87 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units—one 20-foot container or its equivalent—in December, the latest month for which final numbers are available. As a press release went on to note, these numbers show a decrease of 1 percent from November, but are up 8.3 percent year over year; December’s results brought 2023 to 22.3 million TEU, down 12.8 percent from 2022.
“The shipping industry has rapidly adjusted by adding extra vessels to its networks, and has returned to normal weekly ship arrivals,” Hackett said. “Service from Asia to the U.S. East Coast is working well and the dramatic rise in freight rates is showing signs of easing, with pressure from shippers likely to quickly bring these down.”
While ports have not yet reported their numbers for the month of January, the Global Port Tracker projected the month at 1.81 million TEU, up 0.3 percent year over year. February is forecast at 1.86 million TEU, up 20.4 percent year over year; and March is forecast at 1.71 million TEU, up 5.5 percent from last year.
Those numbers would reportedly bring the first half of 2024 to 11.1 million TEU, up 5.3 percent from the same period last year.
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