Fretful over incoming tariffs, retailers are ordering ‘unprecedented volumes’ to West Coast warehouses

  • As retailers plan for President Donald Trump’s tariffs against Chinese goods, a deluge of shipments from China are filling West Coast ports to an “unprecendented” level.
  • “Warehouses across the region have all but reached capacity,” according to third-party logistics firm MIQ Logistics.
  • The West Coast ports are hectic now, but business is likely to slow in 2019 as tariffs take hold.

America’s West Coast ports “are experiencing extreme congestion” this month, according to a report by third-party logistics firm MIQ Logistics. There’s a dearth of chassis, which are the vehicles that move shipping containers around.

Huge amounts of freight have hit the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in particular. Around half of the shipments to those each of those ports are from China.

The volumes have reached an “unprecented” level. “Warehouses across the region have all but reached capacity,” according to MIQ .

The deluge of shipping containers is because of strong retail demand, and thanks to tariffs.

Read more: Lost jobs, shrinking growth, and rotting crops – here are the ways Trump’s trade war is hurting America

West Coast logistics folks had predicted that this December would be a particularly hectic month because of the squeeze to get product from China to the US before tariffs set in. On January 1, 2019, an import tax of 25% on $200 billion of goods from China will go into effect. The tariff will affect a third of all containerized imports from China, according to the Journal of Commerce.

Lidia Yan, cofounder and CEO of Southern California freight-brokerage company NEXT Trucking, works with retailers like Steve Madden, Sharp, and Hitachi – all of whom have operations in China. She told Business Insider in November that she predicted this month could be “the biggest December ever.”

“Most retailers are trying to squeeze in as much volume as possible to avoid the tariff in 2019,” Yan said.

While the West Coast ports are hectic now, business is likely to slow in 2019 as tariffs take hold. Gene Seroka, the executive director of the Port of Los Angeles, told CNBC in August that tariffs may disrupt some 25% of the imports to Los Angeles.