Descartes Systems Group, the global leader in uniting logistics-intensive businesses in commerce, released its May Global Shipping Report for logistics and supply chain professionals. In April 2024, U.S. container import volumes increased 3.0% from March and 9.3% when compared to the same month last year, consistent with a strong and resilient economy in the face of global instability.

After Chinese imports declined significantly in March 2024, they bounced back in April 2024 to levels seen in April 2023. Port transit delays continue to improve for the majority of top U.S. ports, as there has been little impact on volumes at East and Gulf Coast ports from either the Panama drought or the Middle East conflict, which continues to escalate. May’s update of logistics metrics monitored by Descartes shows continued strength in U.S. container imports following the robust first quarter of 2024. Global supply chain disruptions are still anticipated, however, given the ongoing conditions at the Panama and Suez Canals, upcoming labor negotiations at U.S. South Atlantic and Gulf Coast ports, the Middle East conflict, and reduced U.S. port capacity caused by the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in March.

Month-over-month and year-over-year, U.S. economy proves to be robust in April 2024. Versus April 2023, U.S. container import volume in April 2024 was up 9.3%, demonstrating exceptional year-over-year performance (see Figure 1). April 2024 volumes edged up from March 2024, increasing 3% to 2,208,849 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs). Descartes’April report, however, noted that the effects of Chinese Lunar Year may have masked stronger growth in March 2024, which likely also softened April’s growth. Compared to pre-pandemic April 2019, volume was up 15.1%.

Figure 1. U.S. Container Import Volume Year-over-Year Comparison

Source: Descartes Datamyne™
“Despite the March closure at the Port of Baltimore, U.S. imports showed strong performance in April, as they have since January 2024 as compared to 2023,” said Chris Jones, EVP Industry, Descartes. “Port delays also showed continued improvement in April, as volumes at East and Gulf Coast ports have experienced little impact from either the Panama drought or Middle East conflict.”

The May report is Descartes’ thirty-third installment since beginning its analysis in August 2021. To read past reports, learn more about the key economic and logistics factors driving the global shipping crisis, and review strategies to help address it in the near-, short- and long-term, visit Descartes’Global Shipping Resource Center.