Ports Expect Earlier Shipping Surge

A crush of imports is expected to arrive at already cramped seaports sooner than usual.

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After learning hard lessons during the supply chain backlogs of 2021, companies are reportedly taking steps to make sure their goods arrive on time for this year’s holiday season.

But that’s likely to mean that a surge in port traffic will hit U.S. shipping hubs much earlier than usual — with many of the logistics headaches of last year still lingering.

The Wall Street Journal reports that ports are anticipating a shipping peak in late June — weeks earlier than normal — as manufacturers and retailers alike aim to combat sluggish global supply chains. Those goods, ordinarily targeted for later in the year, will join the usual summertime shipments for seasonal items and back-to-school products.

Just how bad the surge will be, however, remains up in the air.

Many shipping executives expect a peak season at least as bad as last year’s, and the report notes that even a modest uptick in imports could cause problems as ports remain busy, warehouses remain full, and labor stays in short supply — not to mention amid broader economic concerns. China’s manufacturing sector could also play a role as it recovers from strict COVID-related lockdowns.

The Journal, however, also noted some signs of hope despite the accelerated shipping timetable. Logistics headaches are easing in some areas, and some shippers — from major retailers to electronics manufacturers — are responding to slowing demand by pulling back on imports.

Port officials, meanwhile, told the Journal that they are better prepared this time around after extending operating hours, boosting storage capabilities, and improving communications throughout the supply chain following last year’s debacle.

Depending on what manufacturers and retailers choose to do in the coming days and weeks, those steps could soon be put to the test.

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