BETHESDA, Md. — If there has been one overwhelming migraine for the automotive aftermarket since the pandemic started, it has been supply-chain disruptions. But those issues may dissipate early next year, according to those involved in the shipping industry.
"You guys who are dependent on ocean transportation for your supply chains have been through the wringer the last couple of years, there's no question about that," acknowledged Peter Tirschwell, vice president of maritime trade and supply chain for S&P Global Market Intelligence, during an Auto Care Association webinar on ocean shipping challenges on Aug. 24.
"This has been off the charts in terms of disruption over the past two years and this is an experience the likes of which none of you who depend on the system have ever had to deal with. If you've gotten through it and you've survived it, hats off to you."
July 2021 saw unprecedented consumer demand for products that led to unprecedented imports, which overwhelmed U.S. ports.
And this trend continues. Container volume increased 5.3% during the first half of 2022, ahead of last year, which was a record year, according to Noel Hacegaba, deputy executive director of administration and operations for the Port of Long Beach in California.
But he said he believes the weight of inflation, changes in discretionary spending and the outlook on the economy are going to take a toll.
"I believe that towards the end of this year we're going to start seeing a softening (of shipping imports), but it will probably be happening during the latter part of the year," he said.
"I think in no way, shape or form are we out of the woods yet and so I would brace yourselves for more hassle at least through the end of the year into early 2023 at the earliest," Tirschwell added.