Imports at the nation’s largest retail container ports should hit yet another record in August as retailers shift from the back-to-school season to the peak shipping season for winter holiday merchandise, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.
“Back-to-school supplies have been hit by the same supply chain disruptions and port congestion that have affected other products this year, but retailers are working hard to ensure that school and college goods are where they need to be,” says NRF VP for supply chain and customs policy Jonathan Gold. “Strong consumer demand has outpaced supply chain operations since late last year and could remain a challenge as the holidays approach. The continuing lack of labor, equipment and capacity has highlighted systemic issues and the need to create a truly 21st century supply chain to ensure resiliency against the next major disruption. Passage of infrastructure legislation currently pending in Congress is a key step in that direction. We need continued focus by the administration to help address these issues as well.”
“The strain of the continuing economic expansion is putting considerable pressure on the logistics supply chain,” says Hackett Associates founder Ben Hackett. “We’re seeing a lack of shipping capacity combined with port congestion as vessels line up to discharge goods from both Asia and Europe. Delays are stretching to landside as port terminals struggle with space shortages and labor challenges are affecting ports, railroads and trucking companies alike. This part of the recovery is not a pretty sight.”
- U.S. ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 2.15 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEU) in June, down 7.8% from May, but up 33.7% from a year earlier, when many stores were closed because of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
- August is forecast at 2.37 million TEU, which would be up 12.6% year-over-year and top May’s 2.33 million TEU for the largest number of containers imported during a single month.
- Many retailers are moving up their shipments this year as part of their risk mitigation strategies to ensure that sufficient inventory will be available during the holidays.