- Port's slowing import rate could signal an end to the formerly-reliable peak shipping season, now that retailers have turned to stockpiling inventory in warehouses instead of stores, the Wall Street Journal reports.
- Container import rates are experiencing the slowest growth rate (2.2%) since 2011 and the volume of freight transported fell for the 17th straight month in July.
- Meanwhile, retail inventory-to-sale rates have consistently increased in the same period pointing to a decreased reliance for large shipments characteristic of the shipping industry.
Retailers used to require large on-site inventories that could last months in order to entice consumer demand at moment's notice in their store. But gone are the days of on-site storage as retailers increasingly point customers toward online catalogs to fulfill on-demand needs.
While e-commerce may have spurred a fast-transport logistics boom, large freight operators have not reaped the same benefits. Retailers are increasingly ordering small shipments of select goods for delivery at central warehouses before distributing them directly to the consumer.
The Wall Street Journal reports this typically means an increase in air cargo shipments, given its speed. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics appears to back this up: domestic non-scheduled air freight ton miles have shown a stunning growth of 37% from 2011, while scheduled flights have grown by 6%.
So as retail supply chains shift towards fast-transport logistic practices, port container import rates are likely to align more closely with U.S. national import growth rates.