U.S. container import volumes decreased slightly in June compared to May, but were markedly higher than pre-pandemic 2019, according to Descartes Systems Group’s July Global Shipping Report.
Descartes’ data shows that container import volumes in June came in to 2,081,793 TEUs, down 0.7% from May 2023. While down 16.1% compared to June 2022, last month’s import volume came in 6% higher than in June 2019.
The July report shows slightly stronger import volume performance in June compared to previous years amid signs that key challenges to global supply chain performance, such as U.S. West Coast labor relations and port transit time delays, are continuing to improve. Unlike the first four months of 2023, the growth in import volume last month accelerated past 2019 volume by 2.1% for the same period.
Meanwhile, Chinese imports increased slightly, by 0.3%, over May to 783,019 TEUs, but were still down 22.0% from last August’s high.
“While June U.S. container import volumes were down, they did not recede as much as has happened in the past,” said Chris Jones, Executive VP of Industry at Descartes. “Port transit time delays fell to their lowest level since Descartes started tracking them and the volume share at West Coast ports exceeded the share at East Coast ports for the first time since March 2022.”
Descartes’ latest report comes as the National Retail Federation is predicting that U.S. container imports will peak in August, before slowly back off at least through September.