Descartes Systems Group, the global leader in uniting logistics-intensive businesses in commerce, released its September report on the ongoing global shipping crisis and analysis for logistics and supply chain professionals. The report shows that August 2022 U.S. ocean container import volumes decreased slightly compared to July 2022 totals but remained above the level that has caused port congestion and delays for the last 18 months. The economy, inflation and high fuel costs have yet to slow down import volumes, and an increase in wait times for ships arriving at East and Gulf Coast ports continues to make managing supply chain performance challenging. However, August was the first month in two years that did not set a record for import volumes.

Container imports into the U.S. in August were 2,529,042 TEUs, down 1.8% versus August 2021 and 0.1% versus July 2022; however, this figure is still 18% higher than pre-pandemic August 2019 (see Figure 1). This is the first month since August 2020 that import volumes did not break the previous year-over-year record.

Figure 1. U.S. Container Import Volume Year-over-Year Comparison

“While down slightly from August 2021 and July 2022, the August numbers show that the U.S. economy, inflation and high fuel costs still have not had the anticipated adverse effect on container import volume,” said Chris Jones, EVP Industry & Services at Descartes. “The continued shift from West Coast ports and higher overall volumes are lengthening delays at major East and Gulf Coast ports (see Figure 2) and keeping the number of ships waiting on the water high, which will prolong the unpredictable nature of global supply chain performance.”

Figure 2: Average Wait Times (in days) at Top 10 U.S. Ports

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