View imports BEFORE the 15th of each month.

FreightWaves Customer SuccessDaily Tips

Did you know? You can track maritime import volumes for each U.S. port  on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.

What is it?

Customs Maritime Import Shipments (CSTM) – This displays data related to import shipments into the U.S. as reported by Customs and Border Patrol (CBP). This is the total number of import shipments and includes both containerized and non-containerized goods. 

CSTM Tree Map
Monthly Maritime Import Shipments by Port in TreeMap feature (Y/Y % Change)

Who needs it?

Analysts: The volume of imports clearing U.S. customs is a leading indicator of intermodal and truckload demand since imports require subsequent surface transportation to warehousing or consumption centers. Imports are closely tied to the publicly traded railroads’ international intermodal volumes. In addition, a large portion of the goods moved by publicly traded domestic intermodal providers includes imported freight that has been trans-loaded from international containers into larger domestic containers. The market share of U.S. ports of entry should be monitored by analysts because intermodal is a much more viable service for imports entering through the west coast (i.e., less competitive with truck) given its longer average lengths of haul to consumption centers.

Carriers: Since the U.S. imports much more than it exports, and a large percentage of those containerized international shipments eventually transition into truckload volumes, keeping track of the CSTM tickers can provide insights into which ports in the U.S. are handling those international volumes. Many of these volumes are brought into U.S. ports and then moved to nearby distribution markets for transloading into truckloads, so these markets are important to monitor for volume trends. 

Brokers: At the end of the day, brokers are the intermediaries between carriers and shippers and are dependent upon the same volumes that are brought into the U.S. from overseas. Much like carriers, monitoring the CSTM tickers can provide important insights into different markets/regions within the U.S. for truckload volumes. 

Shippers: By monitoring the CSTM tickers, shippers can gain insights into which countries of origin other importers are sourcing their materials from. Shippers can also monitor important trends in U.S. port volumes to better understand how increasing or decreasing demand through specific ports may affect their supply chains. 

What can I do with it?

Using this data, you are able to understand how U.S. import volumes are trending before they are officially reported by each port authority in their monthly summary of volume statistics; these usually come out around the 15th of the following month without SONAR.

You can view this ticker to view U.S. import shipments per country of origin (i.e. China to U.S. – CSTM.CHNUSA), on a lane level (LCSTM), or a U.S. port-specific level (ICSTM). This enables you to monitor how U.S. importers are responding to global trends in international trade, and how that is likely to affect the domestic truckload and intermodal markets here in the U.S. 

This is available in the follow time frames: Daily – 7-day moving average (CSTM), Weekly (WCSTM), and Monthly (MCSTM).

Show me how!

1) Click U.S. Map to view monthly maritime import shipments by market to see how import volumes are trending on a monthly basis. 

  • Markets that are shaded a darker blue indicate higher monthly volumes.
  • Markets that are shaded a light blue or white indicate lower monthly volumes.

2) Click Chart to view the historical trends and changes in U.S. maritime import volumes.

  • Ports experiencing increases in maritime import volumes can signal the potential for increases in outbound truckload volumes in markets nearby a specific U.S. port.
  • Ports that have a significant drop in maritime import volumes can be a leading indicator into drops in domestic truckload volumes in port-side markets. 
CSTM Chart

Pro Tip: Use CSTM with Port Import Market Share (PIMS) to see the market share of one particular U.S. port relative to all other U.S. ports.  

If you have questions about outbound tender volumes, please contact us at

Not a SONAR customer but want to learn more about SONAR? Visit the SONAR website to learn more. Or click the button to the right to get a demo.

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