U.S. container imports have fallen back to pre-pandemic levels

The import volume of containerized goods in the United States has declined for several consecutive months, and it has fallen to the level close to the level before the epidemic in December 2022. It is expected that the shipping industry may face a further decline in container import volume in 2023. U.S. ports handled 1,929,032 incoming containers (measured in 20-foot-equivalent units) in December, down 1.3% from November and the lowest level for seaborne imports since June 2020 following a COVID-fueled restocking spree triggered a surge in imports.

U.S. international trade slumped amid signs of a broad slowdown in the global economy as inflation takes its toll on consumer demand. U.S. imports fell 6.4% from October to November, the Commerce Department said last week.

Congestion at U.S. ports has eased since last year, but new forecasts suggest imports will fall at a much faster rate in the first half of the year. The Global Port Tracker, released last week by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and consultancy Hackett Associates, expects imports to fall 11.5% in January from a year earlier and 23% in February to about 1.61 million standard box. That would leave trade volumes behind pre-pandemic levels, roughly equivalent to import levels in early 2020, when the pandemic caused a sharp drop in global shipping. “After nearly three years of COVID-19′s impact on global trade and consumer demand, import patterns appear to be returning to pre-2020 normal levels,” said Ben Hackett, founder of Hackett Associates.

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Post time: Jan-17-2023