Export containers are loaded onto a Yang Ming vessel at the Port of Savannah’s Garden City Terminal. The Georgia Ports Authority is moving cargo at a rate of more than 6 million twenty-foot equivalent container units per year. Credit: Georgia Ports Authority / Stephen Morton

As U.S. Container Imports Fall, Port of Savannah Reports Second Busiest Month in October

Mike Schuler
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November 14, 2022

Bucking the trend of falling inbound containers, the Port of Savannah recorded its second busiest month on record in October as the East Coast port continues to benefit from an eastward shift of imports.

The Georgia Ports Authority announced Monday it handled 552,800 TEUs in October for an increase of 9.6% jump compared to the same month last year. It was the GPA’s second busiest month behind only August 2022. GPA has now topped half a million TEUs in three of the first four months of Fiscal Year 2023, for total volumes of 2.1 million TEUs for the year to date.

“Customers continue to bring new or expanding business to the Port of Savannah, drawn by our global connectivity and the supply chain network that links Savannah to major U.S. markets,” said GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch. “We can report that ships at anchor are trending downward and expanded berth capacity coming online next year will allow us to serve our growing customer base with even greater efficiency.”

According to the GPA, from July through October 160 importers were either new customers at the Port of Savannah or existing customers who grew their Savannah trade by 20 percent or more. This combined increase represented 107,000 additional TEUs in the four months of its fiscal year, compared to the previous year.

Savannah and other East and Gulf Coast ports have been gaining market share relative to the West Coast. According to the most recent data from PIERS/IHS Markit, the East Coast increased its share of the container trade from 47 percent in July 2021 to 48.4 percent in July of this year.

For comparison, imports at the Port of Long Beach fell by nearly 24% year over year in October, and overall throughput was down 16.6% compared to last year. The Port of Los Angeles has not yet reported its October results. Total U.S. container imports in October were down 13% compared to the same month last year, following an 11% drop in September and a 1.8% dip in August, according to a Descartes Systems’ (Nasdaq:DSGX) tally, ending a record-setting growth streak that began in August 2020.

“There has been downward pressure on the total U.S. container trade related to inflation and a shift in consumer spending toward services such as restaurants and travel,” said GPA Board Chairman Joel Wooten. “However, the Port of Savannah continues to outperform relative to the national market, driving new business for Georgia.”

The auto trade at the Port of Brunswick also achieved significant growth in October. Colonel’s Island Terminal handled 70,233 units of Roll-on/Roll-off cargo last month, an increase of 22,045 units or nearly 46 percent.

“Greater availability of computer chips has allowed carmakers to increase production,” said GPA Chief Commercial Officer Cliff Pyron. “This, combined with manufacturers’ traditional end-of-year push, yielded strong results for our October auto volumes.”

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