US imports 'to remain down' for remainder of 2023

Imports and Exports | | MIC Customs Solutions |

Imports to the US are set to remain significantly lower than last year as economic uncertainty continues to bite, according to a new report.

A new report has found that imports to the US in 2023 are expected to remain significantly down on last year as consumer demand remains low amid economic challenges.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates' latest Global Port Tracker found that while seaborne import volumes to the US are climbing from a nearly three-year low in February, totals are expected to remain well below 2022's figures heading into the autumn.

In March 2023, the most recent month with full data, the report found a total of 1.62 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEU) containers entered US ports. While this was a five percent increase from the previous month, it was still 30.6 percent down year-on-year.

For the first half of the year, the study forecast a total of 10.4 million TEU imports, down from previous estimates of 10.8 million TEU and a 22.8 percent drop on the first six months of 2022.

Jonathan Gold, vice-president for supply chain and customs policy at the NRF, said that while congestion at US ports has eased, there remain a range of other challenges for trade, including trucker shortages and getting empty containers back to terminals.

In addition to this, Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett noted that consumer confidence is still being affected by economic uncertainty, in particular issues such as high inflation, interest rate hikes and recent bank failures.

"Year-over-year import volumes have been on the decline at most ports since late last year and declining exports out of China highlight the slowdown in demand for consumer goods," he continued. "Our view is that imports will remain below recent levels until inflation rates and inventory surpluses are reduced."