Peak shipping season got off to a modest start at the Port of Long Beach.
The port has reported handling 682,312 TEUs last month, making for a 15.4% decline from August 2022 as warehouses remained overstocked and consumers continued to pivot toward travel and other summertime activities. However, August’s volumes were up nearly 18% compared to the previous month in July.
August imports decreased 15.4% to 325,436 TEUs, while exports were down 23.1% to 93,402 TEUs. Empty containers moving through the port declined 12.5% to 263,474 TEUs.
“We anticipated a modest peak season as our cargo numbers continue to stabilize at pre-pandemic levels,” said Port of Long Beach CEO Mario Cordero. “Over the long term we are strengthening our competitiveness by investing in digital and physical infrastructure projects that will keep goods moving efficiently for decades to come.”
Through the first eight months of 2023, the Port of Long Beach has moved just under 5 million TEUs, down 24.4% from the same period last year. Cargo volumes this year have been on pace with pre-pandemic levels in 2019, when the Port of Long Beach moved more than 4.9 million TEUs through August.
“We are collaborating with our industry partners to grow market share while moving goods reliably and sustainably,” said Long Beach Harbor Commission President Bobby Olvera Jr. “We intend to close the year on a positive note that focuses on our efforts to improve cargo flow and secure our position as the premier gateway for trans-Pacific trade.”
August’s performance comes as total U.S. container import volumes hit 2.2 million TEUs in August, representing 13.2% decline from the same month a year ago but a slight (0.4%) increase from July 2023, according to Descartes Systems Group’s September Global Shipping Report. The report highlighted that US West Coast ports are regaining their market share of U.S. container imports with the ratification of a new labor contract with unionized dockworkers and waterfront employers at 29 West Coast ports, ending more than a year of labor uncertainty that prompted imports to shift cargo eastward to Gulf and East Coast ports.
The National Retail Federation is forecasting U.S. container imports volumes for all of 2023 at 22.3 million TEUs, which would down 12.5% from last year’s 25.5 million TEU but up from the 22 million TEUs imported in pre-pandemic 2019.
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