Los Angles Port Delay Increases to 15.1 days in Dec. 2021

With decreasing container import volumes, the expectation would be that port delays would also contract. Instead, port delays are still worsening, according to Descartes Datamyne™ analysis. Delay times at the Port of Los Angeles increased in December to 15.1 days, which was almost back to August levels of 15.3 days. At the Port of Long Beach, the delay was even higher at 15.6 days. Equally, delays at the Port of New York/New Jersey also increased by almost a day to 11.7. The Port of Savannah was the only one of the top four ports by volume to see a decrease from 10.7 days in November to 9.9 days in December. This delay increase coincides with the number of ships waiting to enter the Ports of Los Angles and Long Beach which increased to another record level. As of January 7, 2022, there were 105, up from 96 on December 1, 2021.

Importers and logistics services providers (LSPs) continue to shift volume away from the major West Coast ports. The Port of New York/New Jersey processed the most containers in December, which is exceptional. Looking at May to December volumes in aggregate, the Port of New York/New Jersey surpassed the Port of Long Beach to become the second largest container import processor. In addition, as a percentage of the top ten ports, the Port of Los Angeles declined by 4.6% when comparing December and May while the Ports of New York/New Jersey and Savanah increased by 2.4% and 0.7% respectively.

Inventory levels continue to run far below traditional ratios and events in 2022 could make it hard to improve them.

The inventory to sales ratio tracked by the U.S. Federal Reserve slightly declined again (1.1 in August and 1.09 in September, the latest update). This indicates that retailers have not been able to get beyond the peak season inventory demands in the second half of 2022. In addition, a number of events in 2022 conspire to make it hard for importers to elevate them in early to mid-2022. February could be a deceptively slow import month as the Chinese New Year (Feb. 1st) traditionally depresses imports. However, the Olympics (Feb. 4th – 20th) could further depress that month’s shipping volumes as the desire to reduce pollution, especially during the Olympics, could cause many parts of the Chinese economy to curtail operations2 before and during that time.