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Supply Chain by the Numbers

- Jan. 27, 2022

  Supply Chain by the Numbers for Jan. 27, 2022

US Trade Deficit in Goods Sets Record in 2021; Prologis with Interesting Services Offerings; IMF Downgrades Global and US 2021 GDP Growth Forecast; Retail Returns Levels Soared Last Year


$1.08 Trillion


That was the level of the US deficit trade in goods in 2021, the highest level ever and the first time the metric exceeded the trillion dollar level. That according to the advanced economic indicators report from the Census Bureau this week. The number could be revised when the final numbers are released next month, but generally not by much. That $1.08 trillion level was an increase of 21% versus the $893.5 billion deficit in 2020. Month over month, the US trade deficit increased from $98 billion in November to $101 billion in December, the report say. That represented the largest monthly growth on record, and is the first time the measure has exceeded $100 billion for a single month. The politically sensitive deficit in goods with China for all of 2021was not estimated as part of the advanced Census Bureau data.

$75 Million

That was how much revenue warehouse developer Prologis reach in 2021 from a relatively new line of what the company calls its “essentials” business. What does that include? Prologis said offerings involve selling energy from solar panels on top of its warehouses, among other services. But in its Q4 2021 earnings report this week, the company said it plans to expand its service offering this year to include renting forklifts, racking systems and generators to companies operating in its warehouse space. It may go even further. Started in 2018, the $75 million in 2021 sales from the service is a drop in the bucket versus its $4.76 billion in total revenue, but Prologis said sales of the service double last year and could reach $1 billion in the years ahead. And that growth could come in part from leasing robots and other automation to shippers. Through its investment arm, the company has invested around $135 million in startups focused on warehouse robotics and other logistics technology, the Wall Street Journal reports.




That is the revised forecast for global economic growth in 2022, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) this week in its new World Economic Outlook. That estimate is down from projected growth of 5.9% in 2021 when the final numbers come in, and is a downgrade from an estimate of 6.4% in its last projection in October. Growth this year will be only 4% in US, the IMF estimates, a 1.2 percentage-point drop from the October estimate - the largest revision for any major country or major group of countries for which the IMF provides forecasts. The IMF cited continued high levels of inflation as a key factor in the growth downgrades, adding that massive federal stimulus would be expected to lead to rising prices.




That was the level of all retail products sold that were returned in 2021, according to a new survey from the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Appriss Retail. That was up sharply from 10.6% of retail purchases (both in-store and on-line) in 2020. Of course, return levels are much higher for on-line orders, reaching 20.8% last year. That was an increase from 18.1% in 2020, NRF found. In response to the high cost of returns, which often includes free shipping for on-line purchases, retailers are trying a variety of tactics. Those include virtual fitting rooms and artificial intelligence-powered tools that can suggest the right size for apparel. Returns can create opportunities for fraud, too. For every $100 in returned merchandise accepted, retailers lose $10.30 to fraud, NRF found.

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