Imports into the US in 2020 are heading to record levels – and the even better news is that they look set to remain high during this year.
Ships carrying goods from Asia – the world’s biggest producer of fishing tackle – have had a particularly big impact, with imports from China for March 2021 forecast to be 19% up on the same month last year. January is predicted to be up almost 8% from a year ago, making it the biggest January on record, and February up 6% year-over-year.
And all this is despite the COVID-19 pandemic that threatens to remain a serious disruptor throughout this year. The figures come from the latest Globe Port Tracker report released by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates, which provides intelligence to the international maritime industry.
“Nobody would have thought last spring that 2020 would be a record year for imports, but it was clearly an unpredictable year,” said Jonathan Gold, NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy. “Consumers and retailers once again proved their resilience in the face of unprecedented challenges.
“Thanks in part to Government stimulus, retail sales saw strong growth during 2020 even with the pandemic, and import numbers show retailers expect the economic recovery will continue during 2021.”
But, added Hackett Associates’ Ben Hackett, COVID-19 remains a major obstacle as all industries clamour to get their supply chains back on track. “With COVID-19 accelerating across the country, the pandemic is causing logistics problems beyond the congestion at the ports,” he said. “With large numbers of people infected by the virus, the supply chain is potentially facing challenges to find enough workers for goods distribution.”