With the holiday season fast approaching the flow of goods into the United States remains choppy as importers work to overcome a host of challenges.
The National Retail Federation (NRF), in releasing its monthly Global Port Tracker report, said that while the amount of cargo coming from overseas is there, congestion at the nation’s major ports continues to be a hindrance.
“Ships will eventually get unloaded but the pressure is on for everyone to work together to get the containers out as quickly as possible,” said Jonathan Gold, vice president for Supply Chain and Customs Policy with the NRF. “Retailers are doing whatever it takes to make sure shelves are well-stocked for the holidays, from bringing in merchandise earlier to chartering their own ships. Consumers should be able to find what they need, but it’s always safer to shop early than wait until the last minute.”
COVID-19 infections in Asia have slowed the loading of U.S.-bound ships, while shortages of equipment, labor and outbound truck and rail capacity have continued to build congestion at U.S. ports.
According to the NRF, close to 75 ships were waiting at anchor to enter the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach recently, up from around 25 a month earlier. Backups are spreading to East Coast ports as well.
In spite of the challenges, imports continue to grow. According to the NRF Port Global Tracker report, imports in August were up 7.8% year-over-year. September imports are estimated to grow 6.7% when compared to the prior year.