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Volumes to Savannah signal September slowdown

The GPA expects import volumes to slow, and possibly even decline on a YoY basis, as soon as mid-September as the number of containers en route to Savannah has fallen from its peak earlier this summer.

Containerized imports through Savannah rose 6.5% YoY in the first seven months of 2022, including a 14% spike in July. However, the tide is changing. The NRF expects imports to decline 1.5% YoY in the second half of 2022 and decelerate further in 2023.

Given the time to travel to Savannah, the decline in volume on the water will likely show up in September or October volume data, rather than August.

The revised forecast from GPA comes as some big-box retailers – most notably Walmart and Target – have publicly acknowledged having too much inventory in stock. Some suppliers have cut back on factory orders until their big-box retailer partners provide more clarity on inventory.

Even if imports begin to decline YoY, volumes will remain well above pre-pandemic levels. To return to pre-pandemic levels, laden imports into Savannah would need to plunge 25% YoY in the fourth quarter.

As of Monday, there were 32 vessels outside Savannah awaiting a berth, down from a peak of 40 ships in July.

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Inflation to further cool H2 U.S. imports

U.S. retailers further downgraded their expectation for YoY declines in imports into early 2023, saying inflation and higher interest rates will “cool” consumer demand. The 11 ports covered by the GPT handled imports of 2.18 million TEU in July, down 0.4% from July 2021.

The GPT also downgraded import projections through the end of the year. August volumes are now expected to show a YoY decline of 4.3%, down from the 3% drop expected in last month’s report. It is the same for September, October, November, and December.

The decline is projected to continue in January, when imports of 2.11 million TEU at the survey ports would be down 2.6% from January 2022. The GPT’s second-half import forecast of 12.6 million TEU would mean a 3.1% drop from the record numbers in H2 2021.

Supply chain issues and unsettled labor negotiations are still concerns for retailers. Talks continue between the PMA and ILWU, whose contract expired July 1. West Coast ports are operating fluidly compared with the 2021 peak season, but East and Gulf coast ports are struggling.

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About O’Neill Logistics

O’Neill Logistics is a leading 3PL with operations in Rancho Cucamonga, CA; Savannah, GA; and Newark/Monroe, NJ. We service many verticals including Garments, Fashion Accessories, Footwear, Furniture, Home Goods, & Electronics. Additionally, we offer omni-channel distribution and all value-added services. Lastly, we focus on retail “drop shipment” fulfillment and item-level fulfillment services with same-day service offerings.

O’Neill Logistics has over 2 million square feet of state-of-the-art facilities. Additionally, we offer dray services to support the warehouses and provide distribution to retailers and wholesalers. Our reliable 3PL platform combines sophisticated technology with robust, flexible processing designs and speed-to-market gateway models.

Lastly, we aim to simplify your supply chain. We deliver exceptional service and can optimize your operational performance. Therefore, we aim to build, protect and foster strong business partnerships.