Despite widespread disruptions in the supply chain, there’s promising news on the horizon! According to the latest Global Shipping Report from Descartes, U.S. container imports witnessed a significant jump of nearly 16% in March, underscoring the resilient trajectory of inbound shipments.

While there was only a slight uptick of 0.4% in container import volumes from February 2024, the year-over-year comparison paints a much brighter picture, with a robust 15.7% increase compared to March 2023 and an impressive 20.6% surge from pre-pandemic levels in March 2019.

The impact of the Chinese Lunar New Year may have masked even more substantial growth, as the holiday’s effects were felt later in March 2024. A comparison between the first 15 days of March 2024 and the same period in 2023 reveals a staggering 22.7% increase in U.S. container import growth, unaffected by the Lunar New Year festivities.

Despite a dip in imports from China in March, down by 13.8% from February 2024 due to Lunar New Year disruptions, the overall growth trend remains strong. The challenges were further exacerbated by the unfortunate collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge at the Port of Baltimore on March 26, resulting in significant volume losses.

Encouragingly, despite these hurdles, port transit delays have been on a downward trend across major ports. The Port of Oakland led the way with a remarkable reduction of 2.8 days in wait times compared to February, followed closely by Long Beach with a decrease of 1.1 days.

The first quarter of 2024 has proven to be a solid beginning for U.S. container imports, according to Descartes’ analysis. However, concerns persist regarding the global supply chain’s performance, given ongoing challenges at the Panama and Suez Canals, impending labor negotiations at U.S. South Atlantic and Gulf Coast ports, the conflict in the Middle East, and the fallout from the Baltimore Bridge collapse.