Cargo declines due to reduced consumer demand, shifting trade routes
Cargo container traffic slowed at the Port of Long Beach in April as consumers continued to limit purchases and shippers shuffled trade from the West Coast to seaports on the East and Gulf coasts.
Dockworkers and terminal operators moved 656,049 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) last month, down 20.1% from April 2022, which was the Port’s busiest April on record. Imports declined 21.8% to 313,444 TEUs, while exports increased a narrow 0.6% to 122,663 TEUs. Empty containers moving through the Port decreased 26.2% to 219,943 TEUs.
“The unprecedented consumer demand we saw at the height of COVID-19 has diminished and cargo flows are now closer to pre-pandemic levels,” said Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero. “We expect slow growth in the second half of 2023, as retailers continue to clear surplus inventory from their warehouses.”
“Our facilities, dockworkers, marine terminal operators and staff continue to make this the premier gateway for trans-Pacific goods movement,” said Long Beach Harbor Commission President Sharon L. Weissman. “So we do expect cargo volumes to rebound eventually as shippers seek out the top-notch customer service of the Port of Choice.”
Economists say consumer spending has softened since the start of the year, while the Federal Reserve’s interest rate adjustments have slowed inflation as intended.
The Port has moved 2,377,375 TEUs during the first four months of 2023, down 27.5% from the same period in 2022.
For complete cargo numbers, visit polb.com/statistics.