Panjiva says U.S.-bound waterborne shipments hit new high in October

With 1,144,033 shipments, October was up 11.9% annually, which Panjiva said marks the fastest rate of growth for monthly shipments going back to March 2014.

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Data recently issued by global trade intelligence firm Panjiva pointed to United States-bound waterborne shipments reaching an all-time high in October.

With 1,144,033 shipments, October was up 11.9% annually, which Panjiva said marks the fastest rate of growth for monthly shipments going back to March 2014. Panjiva added that this tally includes containerized shipments, which were up 10.8% to 2.67 million TEU. On a year-to-date basis through October, shipments are up 6.3% to 10,261,791.

The biggest driver for October shipments, according to Panjiva, was shipments out of China rising 16.1% annually. This growth came despite the imposition of tariffs of 10% on $200 billion of imports that took effect on September 24.

“The fundamental driver [for October’s growth] is the strength of the United States economy,” said Panjiva Research Director Chris Rogers. “Consumer confidence is still at a multi-decade high, and the ISM manufacturing output is still very positive. If President Trump and President Xi were not in conflict over trade, one could point to a great economy and logistics sector, with lots of global shipping activity happening. The big surprise is that tariffs implemented so far have not had a negative effect.”

Tariffs implemented in July and August did have a bit of what Rogers called a “pop” and resulted in a monthly shipments record, at the time, in July, with less of a pop for tariffs that took effect in September, which applied for four times as many products at 10%.

“Many companies just said they can pass that through to customers or swallow it and go on like business as usual,” he said. “The reason for that is they are more concerned about what might happen in January, when tariffs go up again. There is a degree of a pull-forward in that sense.”

Rogers also explained that as it is now Peak Season, coupled with a strong economy, things will be even more hectic and even stronger than usual.

That was reflected in different October shipment groupings like furniture, which was up 14.7% annually and up from 3.5% over the prior three months, while apparel was up 19.7% to a record high. Toys were up 2.8% and helped to reverse a third quarter drop-off, while hitting a new record at the peak of the pre-holiday shopping season.

Rogers commented that the growth in furniture imports suggests that the 10% duties applied in September are not expected by retailers to reduce consumer demand.

Other areas with gains include consumer electronics in the form of televisions and audio products, as well as refrigerators, microwave ovens, and other household items. 

While Panjiva does not issue formal forecasts, Rogers said that barring an unforeseen circumstance, 2018 remains on track to set a new annual growth record.

As things stand now, he said 2018 annual growth is pegged at 5.7%, which would top 2017’s 4.1%, and gains of 2.5% and 0.3% for the previous two years, respectively.

About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

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