China lockdowns have not affected U.S. port volumes, report says

by Inside Logistics Online Staff

A monthly report for April reveals another record month of U.S. ocean container import volumes in April, but reduced wait times at top U.S. ports.

The anticipated impact of China’s Covid lockdowns has not yet materialized in the overall volume of U.S. container imports. The combination of high volume, China lockdowns and global conflict continues to point to challenging global supply chain performance in 2022, according the the April report from Descartes Systems Group.

The month continued the very strong start to 2022 at 2.47 million container imports, setting another monthly record for U.S. volumes. Container import volumes were down four percent from March 2022, but could be considered on par with March due to the Easter holiday and the month of April being a day shorter.

In contrast to previous years, however, April 2022 volumes were up four percent from April 2021 and 28 percent from pre-pandemic April 2019.

Another month effectively exceeding the 2.4 million TEU mark indicates that the chronic supply chain disruptions (e.g., delays, variability, etc.) importers and the logistics community have been experiencing are not abating in the short-term.

Source: Descartes Datamyne

 

“As imports from China were almost one percent higher in April 2022 versus April 2021, one can conclude that, despite the lockdowns, a large number of goods were still moving out of China in the mid-February to mid-March time frame,” said Chris Jones, executive vice-president industry and services at Descartes.

“While container import volumes were again at record levels, April showed continued reduction in port wait times although the majority are still experiencing delays in excess of 10 days.”

Figure 2: Average Wait Times (in days) at Top 10 U.S. Ports

Port

March

April

Los Angeles

12.4

10.3

Long Beach

10.3

9.7

New York/New Jersey

15.0

14.7

Savannah

10.6

10.7

Norfolk

15.1

14.1

Houston

12.7

11.6

Charleston

18.0

13.4

Oakland

23.8

13.8

Seattle

8.8

11.5

Tacoma

12.0

11.4

Source: Descartes Datamyne

Volumes between U.S. West and East Coast ports shifted again in April 2022 compared to March 2022, Jones reported in a blog. The top five East Coast ports increased to 45.4 percent of the total import container volume, while the top West Coast ports accounted for 41.2 percent. The flips from March when the split was East Coast 41.4 percent and West Coast 45.0 percent.

Volumes are also shifting away from the top 10 ports. In April 2021, the top 10 handled 86.9 percent of all volume. In April 2022, that was only 86.5 percent.

The  report is Descartes’ tenth installment since beginning its analysis in August 2021.