The National Retail Federation (NRF) has said that it is expecting US imports to remain “well below” last year’s levels in 2023 as demand continues to falter in the region.
This is according to research carried out by the organisation and Hackett Associates, which collaborated on the Global Port Tracker report for 2023.
While levels are still expected to be down, the report did find that import cargo volume at major container ports was climbing back from its three-year low.
In March, 1.62 million 20-foot container units were handled by US ports covered in the report, up 5 percent from February, which had experienced the lowest levels since May 2020, but down 30.6 percent year-over-year.
The tracker has projected that April could see levels down 23.4 percent year-over-year, while May is forecast to be down 23.5 percent from last year.
While the rest of the year is also expected to see decreases, by September volumes are expected to be down just 3.4 percent.
The NRF noted that year-over-year declines had been skewed by unusually high volumes last year.
In a release, NRF’s vice president for supply chain and customs policy, Jonathan Gold, stated that while consumers were still spending and retail sales were expected to increase, there was still not the “explosive” demand that had been seen in the previous two years.
Gold continued: “Congestion at the ports has largely gone away as import levels have fallen, but other supply chain challenges remain, ranging from trucker shortages to getting empty containers back to terminals.”