Industry shipments of corrugated products decreased 2.1 percent, from 32.65 bsf in April of 2019 to 31.96 bsf in April of 2020, the Fibre Box Association (FBA) reported. Average week shipments also decreased 2.1 percent, from 7.775 bsf in 2019 to 7.611 bsf in 2020. Shipments of corrugated products are up 1.5 percent year-to-date.
Containerboard consumption was 2.657 million tons in April of 2020, down from 2.690 million tons, or 1.2 percent, in April of 2019. Consumption increased 3.5 percent year-to-date over 2019. Containerboard inventory at corrugator plants increased 7.7 percent, from 2.1278 million tons in March to 2.2914 million tons in April 2020. Weeks of supply grew from 3.3 in March to 3.6 in April, or 9.1 percent.
“In addition to replenishing low inventories at the end of March from that month’s boom in shipments, declining box shipments this month led to an inventory increase of 145,000 tons,” noted Dick Storat in his Scoring Boxes newsletter. “At the end of April, containerboard inventories at mills and box plants were 2.2 percent higher than a year earlier.”
Storat also provided data that reflected the impact of the coronavirus: “As economic pain from the pandemic intensified last month, record declines in consumer spending and manufacturing have flooded the record books. Retail sales declined by 16.4 percent in April, as grocery store sales dropped 13.3 percent, general stores sales dropped by 20.8 percent, and restaurant sales declined by 29.5 percent. Only online sales posted a monthly sales increase (8.4 percent) as quarantines forced more purchases to be made online, a trend not likely to fully reverse itself after the pandemic passes.”