As we head into the end of the year, the shipping industry is seeing some good news quite literally on the horizon: ships waiting to dock outside US ports full of overseas cargo ready to dock at terminals. As an import surge hints at positive signs we noticed a ramp-up to fill depleted inventories after a tumultuous year, the fortunes of the international shipping industry are looking positive.

Many ports are seeing this pre-holiday import surge surpass not just numbers from earlier this year, but volumes that are exceeding the same time period in 2019. This represents a streak of now two straight months of increasing imports per port reports, and points to an uptick in demand for goods that had cratered at the beginning of the global pandemic.

Given the unique circumstances of 2020, retailers are stocking up on holiday goods at higher levels as well as earlier than usual to ensure that there are minimal supply chain disruptions heading into the critical Christmas shopping season. This is leading to a glut of incoming vessels and more containers coming in than have moved all year.

This early shipment and build-up of inventory are having the unintended consequence of stressing the supply of shipping equipment and warehouse space across the country. The number of containers, chassis, trucks, and especially the truckers and workers who move and unload the cargo have all come into high demand in a time when social distancing and quarantine have stressed these supplies to the limit. Finding warehouse and yard space to put products while finding workers who can move and unload it will be a challenge through 2020 but an Import surge hints at positive signs.

This import boom has yet to extend itself as much to exports yet. The US trade deficit has widened over the course of the year. Global demand has faltered with the pandemic, and while major economies like the USA and China have shown signs of growth, much of the world remains in slow recovery. With the US dollar trading high against foreign currencies along with lingering demand reduction, exports remain an area with room for improvement.

Through this unprecedented freight season, it’s necessary for all importers and exporters to have a forwarder with the knowledge, skill, and options necessary to find the best rates and make sure your cargo is moved. JMR’s global network allows us to find these options and bring real cost savings to our clients. Please contact our SVP of Sales Andrew Galloway at (212) 220-7412, (973) 726-5340, or via email at agalloway@jmrodgers.com.