August U.S. Container Import Volumes Rise from July, Says Descartes

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In August 2023, U.S. container import volume increased slightly compared to July 2023, which is fairly consistent with the rise that occurs in peak season in non-pandemic years. Despite the volume increase, port transit times remained close to their lowest levels since Descartes began tracking them.

The U.S. West Coast labor situation is resolved. While the Panama drought is impacting some types of shipping, U.S. container imports do not appear to be affected to date. The September update of the logistics metrics Descartes is tracking shows continued consistency with 2019 results and signs that key challenges to global supply chain performance in 2023 have stabilized.

U.S. container imports flatten

August 2023 U.S. container import volumes increased 0.4% from July 2023 to 2,196,268 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) (see Figure 1). Versus August 2022, TEU volume was lower by 13.2%, but up 2.5% from pre-pandemic August 2019. The growth in import volume over the first eight months of 2023 is within 2.1% of the same period in 2019.

Examining the increase in import volumes from July to August in the previous six years, apart from pandemic-driven 2020 and 2021 which were anomalies, August 2023 volumes show a very modest increase from July of the same year.

For the top 10 ports, overall U.S. container import volume in August 2023 was up slightly to 7,851 TEUs versus July with seven of the ten ports reporting decreases. The West Coast Ports of Los Angeles (47,095 TEUs) and Long Beach (35,996 TEUs) showed the greatest overall container volume increases, but the Ports of New York/New Jersey (-24,089) and Savannah (-26,020) had the greatest decreases.

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Source: Descartes


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