Digital freight forwarders Amazon, Flexport and Ceva Logistics made major gains in February as overall import volume reached record daily highs, according to new research from Panjiva.
Leading the pack in terms of growth was Flexport with the company’s February imports up 95.1 percent from a year earlier, according to the report.
Meanwhile, Amazon and Ceva notched their own gains for the month with import growth of 60.9 percent and 55.1 percent, respectively, from the year-ago period.
“Both [Amazon and Ceva] have seen a dramatic increase in imports over the last 12 months, but growth may be slowing as both companies are showing negative import momentum, down 17.2 percentage points and 3.4 percentage points, respectively, against the three-month average,” said the report from Panjiva, which is the supply chain division of S&P Global Market Intelligence.
U.S. imports in February rose 6.9 percent from the year-ago period, with the daily rate equating to 90,316 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs). That compares to 86,363 TEUs per day in January.
“This marks a record in daily volumes in February, despite the dampening effect of the Lunar New Year holiday season in Asia,” Panjiva’s report said. “This suggests that logistics networks are still running at full tilt and could be an indication that supply chains are clearing backlogs.”
The ports accounting for the largest share of those February imports were from outside of China, up 17.2 percent from February 2021.
Visibility into the lockdowns that are now wreaking havoc on movement in some parts of China is murky, with Panjiva pointing out data on shipping wouldn’t be available until March. However, it pointed to companies such as Qurate Retail Inc.—parent to brands such as QVC, HSN and Zulily—and Mattel Inc. as possibly having their shipments affected by the stay-at-home orders in China.
“Measures like this could impact companies shipping out of the region’s ports and may cause knock-on effects when firms try to move goods after the lockdowns end or divert shipment to open areas,” said Panjiva supply chain analyst Eric Oak in a Wednesday research note.
The ports of Yantian, Shekou, Chiwan and Da Chan Bay in Shenzhen saw a 15 percent increase in imports to the U.S. in February, which is up from the 6.2 percent increase seen in January.
Shenzhen, home to multiple container terminals and some 17.5 million people, is in the midst of a lockdown that began Sunday due to a rise in Covid-19 cases and China’s zero-Covid policy. The stay-at-home order is expected to end Sunday at the earliest.
China’s National Health Commission reported Wednesday 1,952 new cases on the Chinese mainland, down from the 3,602 reported the day prior.
Other parts of the country also under lockdown include Dongguan, Jilin and Langfang.
Early reads from logistics companies on the ground indicate there will be an impact on the supply chain with factory shutdowns and transportation restrictions that will lead to delivery delays and increased freight rates. The severity of those impacts, however, will depend on the length of shelter-in-place orders.
“These new lockdowns have the potential to worsen disruptions significantly. As a result, we may see further price hikes and deeper delays in the days and weeks ahead,” Flexport’s global head of content Trips Reddy wrote on Tuesday.
Reddy went on to warn that companies should assume cargo leaving Shenzhen will likely be stuck there for a week at minimum.