Container volumes at the Port of Long Beach fell 9.8% in February, while LA was down 2.7% and Oakland 1.3%.
The much anticpiated slowdown in container volume arrived at Long Beach, Los Angeles and Oakland in February. Long Beach Terminals moved 596,616 TEU in the month, a 9.8% decrease compared to February 2018. Imports dropped 11.5% to 302,865 TEUs, while exports declined 19.6%. Empty boxes were flat at 188,465 TEU.
In neighbouring Los Angeles, total February volume fell 2.7% to 705,306TEU. Imports dropped 9.1% to 348,316 TEU and export containers (full) decreased 9.5% to 142,554 TEUs. Empty containers surged 16.3% to 214,436 TEUs.
Oakland was more stable, with total volume falling just 1.3%. Imports were down 5%, Exports down 8.2%, and empty box exports up nearly 7%.
The situation is something the ports have been expecting, with import front loading to beat impending tariffs and an early Chinese New Year in 2019 causing what Oakland described as a “2018 global trade frenzy” that the ports had been expecting would come to a halt.
“Lunar New Year was earlier this year, shrinking shipments for most of February,” said Long Beach Harbor Commission President Tracy Egoscue. “We’re preparing for busier months ahead, and will work with all of our supply chain partners this year to deliver efficient, fast service for our customers as they adjust to market changes.”
"After the busiest seven months in the history of our port, the anticipated ease in cargo volume provides an opportunity for us to regroup with our stakeholders,” said Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka. “With an uneven trade flow, we will be closely evaluating next steps for enhancing supply chain efficiencies.
Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero saw things slightly differently. “Overall, our volumes have increased and cargo flow has become more consistent as retailers constantly replenish inventory in the e-commerce economy,” he said. “Last year set high standards. We had our busiest months and year ever, but we are still expecting modest growth in 2019.”