And yes, imports do affect you as a driver in the U.S. truckload market.
However, finding the exact percent of impact does not seem to be possible and everyone has their own opinion.
This will be a quick class on why as a truck driver you must understand how imports impact your daily thinking and your strategic long-term planning.
As Henry Beyers reported on FreightWaves.com today https://www.freightwaves.com/news/us-import-demand-drops-off-a-cliff
It is true that some major retailers have too much inventory as indicated by the second-largest importer stating that it has an “aggressive” inventory reduction plan.
It is also true that not everyone is in the same boat.
The fact remains that bookings of import TEUs are not just softening, they are falling off a cliff. Container imports to the U.S. have dropped over 36% since May 24. This is a forward-looking data set showing volumes that will not reach our ports for over a month.
Why should we care? Because freight that has been imported and placed into a distribution center or moved through a cross-dock and then is later shipped is still driven by imports. Yep, even a month later.
No import? No shipment a month later.
You need to understand the following:
Imports drive truckload volumes almost day to day. Much of this activity is in local and short-haul loads to the California Inland Empire for cross-dock and inventory. During the pandemic, we saw longer lengths of haul impacted as the urgency to get goods to market was very high.
Imports fuel truckloads across the country. As the local moves and regional moves from the port markets make their way to the distribution hubs, the impact of import volume trends are being felt.
Example: Columbus, Ohio, is a major distribution market. Virtually nothing is produced there. It is mostly imports staged via warehousing for shipment to nearby consumer population centers.
Bookings are not shipments. However, they are a much better measure of the physical volume of cargo. A shipment can be part of a TEU or multiple TEUs.
Bookings are not daily Customs clearances. Bookings are TEUs that will hit our ports in the future. Bookings from China will take 35-plus days to reach the United States, on average.
Bookings are dropping and major retailers are scrambling with slumping sales and overstocked inventory.
An “aggressive” inventory reduction plan. Uhm…that ain’t good news.
If anyone tells you differently, ask them the percentage of imports in their chocolate chip cookie.
Bet they’re wrong.
The U.S.imports sugar, vanilla, cocoa, and even 1 million metric tons of wheat flour per year.
Peace and love