Descartes Systems Group, the global leader in uniting logistics-intensive businesses in commerce, released its December report on the ongoing global shipping crisis and analysis for logistics and supply chain professionals. The report shows continued strong U.S. ocean container import volumes and other underlying factors, which may point to a challenging 2022 for global supply chains.
November was an even stronger month for U.S. import volume (see Figure 1). With a shorter month and the Thanksgiving holiday, November historically has had a lower import volume than October. However, compared to November 2020 and 2019, the volume was up 12% and 34%, respectively. For further context, only one other month in the prior two years (October 2020) had a higher container import volume. Many retailers accelerated their peak season imports in 2021 to address the shipping capacity crunch, but that has not translated into a decline at year-end.
“The U.S. continues to be one of the more overachieving economies in the world, as import volumes continue to run at a record pace. Despite this success, inventory levels are not catching up to retail sales levels,” said Chris Jones, EVP Industry & Services at Descartes. “Unless consumer behavior changes, we believe that the demand for goods and the associated logistic services to get them to market will continue at elevated levels through 2022. We believe this may result in continued delays through next year at not only the West Coast ports, but all U.S. ports.”