In March, U.S. imports showed signs of recovery, increasing from February. However, the future remains uncertain. New data reveals that wholesale inventories are still high and cargo from China is decreasing. Descartes’ data shows that U.S. imports in March were 1,853,705 twenty-foot equivalent units. This is a 27.5% decrease from the previous year but a 6.9% increase from February and a 4.2% increase from March 2019 before COVID-19. Los Angeles and Long Beach were the biggest winners with imports increasing by 30% and 25% respectively compared to February. These Southern California ports were severely affected by Lunar New Year disruptions in February. On the East Coast, Descartes’ data showed month-on-month decreases with Savannah down by 6%, New York and New Jersey by 5%, and Charleston by 3%.
Despite the recovery in Southern California, import flows from China to the U.S. continue to decrease. According to Descartes, imports from China decreased by 46,573 TEUs in March compared to February. This was offset by a similar combined increase from Thailand, South Korea, and Japan. In March, U.S. imports from China totaled 586,129 TEUs, a 41.6% drop from the recent high in August 2022. During the same period, overall U.S. imports fell by 26.7%.