In October, U.S. container import volume increased from September 2023, moving significantly ahead of October 2019 imports, according to new research from Descartes Systems Group.
Instead of the pre-pandemic peak season decline that traditionally starts in the August timeframe, import volumes continued to rise and began to approach the levels that resulted in port congestion during the pandemic.
“October has traditionally been a stronger month than September. However, the last two months show an increase above pre-pandemic 2019 import levels, which are counter to the declines expected at the end of the year,” says Chris Jones, EVP industry Descartes. “The drought in Panama still does not appear to be affecting Gulf Coast port volumes or to have caused a shift to West Coast ports.”
- Imports from China continued to increase, but at a slower pace than in previous months.
- Despite the volume increase, port transit times stabilized or retreated to some of their lowest levels.
- Despite favorable labor conditions and concerns about the Panama Canal drought, the top West Coast ports’ volume declined.
- The Panama drought does not appear to be impacting U.S. container import volume given yearly import highs for Gulf Coast ports.
- Tracking shows abnormal seasonal import patterns and signs that some of the key challenges to global supply chain performance in 2023 are improving, but others are not.