- With most holiday merchandise already on retailer’s shelves or at warehouses, a new report from the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates expects December cargo volume to be “significantly below records” set earlier in 2022.
- The number of twenty-foot containers or their equivalent is forecast to drop to 1.94 million this month, down from 2.09 million in December 2021.
- While retailers are in the midst of holiday selling, ports are “headed into their winter lull” after a challenging year, according to NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold.
The NRF forecast the ongoing decline in imports during and after this year’s holiday season. In its October report, the trade group noted that U.S. ports managed 2.26 million units in August, a slight 0.4% drop year over year. The following month, the NRF released another report predicting that those declines would continue through the spring of 2023.
“We’ve dodged a rail strike and the retail supply chain should be able to easily handle the remaining weeks of the holiday season,” Gold said in a statement. “But it’s time to settle on a labor contract for West Coast ports and address other supply chain issues that remain so the lull doesn’t become the calm before a storm.”
The legislation President Biden signed prevented a rail strike, which could have cost the economy $2 billion per day. The move came after more than 300 trade groups called upon President Biden to take action to prevent a strike.
The slowdown in cargo shipments comes as many retailers have recently struggled with excessive inventory. Major brands like Nike and Adidas had too much inventory on hand just as consumer demand dropped.
Looking ahead to January 2023, the report projects that ports will manage 1.97 million units, an 8.8% decline year over year. That decline is expected to continue from February into April.