Importers and logistics companies can expect more supply chain delays and disruptions in 2022, according to a report from logistics software provider Descartes Systems Group, released Wednesday.
The company’s monthly report on global shipping conditions is based on trade, import, and export data. In February, U.S. import volumes were down 3% compared to January, but rose 12% compared to a year ago and were up 38% compared to February 2020. U.S. container import volume remained in the 2.4 million to 2.6 million twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) range that persisted throughout 2021, indicating much of the same business conditions for the coming year.
“February continued the very strong start to 2022, with another record for container import volumes,” Descartes’ Chris Jones, executive vice president for industry and services, wrote in the monthly report. “Another month effectively exceeding the 2.4 million container import mark indicates that the chronic supply chain disruptions (e.g., delays, variability, etc.) that importers and the logistics community have been experiencing are not abating in the short-term.”
The report also showed that importers and logistics services providers continue to shift volume away from congested West Coast ports. Comparing the top five West Coast ports to the top five East Coast ports in February to last May shows that, of the total import container volume, East Coast ports now represent 44% of imports while West Coast ports represent 42.6%. In May 2021, the split was West Coast 47.4% and East Coast 39.5%, according to Jones. All top West Coast ports declined in volume while all top East Coast ports increased, he wrote.
A strong economy and hiring environment will continue to put pressure on supply chains, while inflation and geopolitical crises may cause other challenges.
“The latest reported personal consumption expenditures show strong demand for goods … especially durable goods, which rose 9.7%. This will put more pressure on the U.S. logistics infrastructure in 2022,” Jones wrote. “However, the consistent increase in inflation and the Russia/Ukraine conflict could dampen demand but cause other challenges. We believe importers and logistics services providers will face a congested, disrupted, expensive, and frustrating 2022 and must strategically consider the longer-term impacts of the ongoing crisis in global shipping.”