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Ocean shipping: Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach July 2011 volumes are down slightly

By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
August 16, 2011

July volumes for the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach were both down slightly compared to the same period a year ago.

POLA imports—at 357,667 Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEU) were down 3.17 annually and topped July’s 333,894 TEU. Exports—at 165,135 TEU—were up 12.82 percent from July 2010. This was ahead of June’s 161,137 TEU tally. July empties at POLA were 165,522 TEU for a 23.01 percent decline, and the monthly total was 688,325 TEU, which represented a 5.81 decline from last year.

For the calendar year-to-date, POLA is up 1.39 percent at 4,455,552.

“All things considered, we think July volumes were pretty healthy,” said POLA Director of Communications Philip Sanfield. “Imports and exports were up 1.3 percent combined, but the decline in imports is coming off of July 2010, which was a [huge] month with a 27 percent increase over July 2009.

Heavy exports like corn and grain, which need to be split into multiple containers, and take up container space and leave less room for empties, coupled with fewer imports, created a situation in which there was not as much a need to ship back empties, said Sanfield in explaining the more than 20 percent decrease in empties.

And coupled with the early Peak Season in 2010, to be a few percentage points behind that pace is respectable, he noted. Given the current economic volatility, Sanfield said that it is hard to gauge how the remainder of the calendar year will play out in terms of volume growth.

But the recently-released Port Tracker report from the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates are pointing to a healthy holiday season based on positive cargo projections in the fall.

July POLB imports, which are primarily comprised of consumer goods, came in at 290,314 TEU for a 1.2 percent decrease. This fared better than June’s 271,113 TEU and May’s 275,100 TEU. POLB Exports, which are primarily comprised of raw materials, were up 0.6 percent at 126,968 TEU, which was slightly ahead of June’s 126,588 TEU and behind May’s 130,161 TEU. Empties—at 155,644 TEU—were down 7.3 percent annually.

Total POLB shipments for July were 572,926 TEU, marking a 2.5 percent dip from July 2010. This topped July’s 554,269 TEU. For the fiscal year-to-date, POLB shipments are at 5,235,736, a 10.2 percent increase over 2010.

While these numbers look good, they are largely down compared to a year ago at this time, which saw annual gains around 20 percent.

“While our fiscal year numbers have been strong, up over 10 percent in 2011 versus 2010, July’s volumes do show that importers, particularly retailers, are taking a much more conservative approach to their holiday inventories,” said Sean Strawbridge, POLA Managing Director of Trade Relations and Port Operations, in a statement. “But, it’s important to note 2010 was a very strong year for imports, with record gains of nearly 25 percent. So the fact that this year’s volumes are holding steady at those levels is not bad news, given the general state of the economy.”

About the Author

Jeff Berman headshot
Jeff Berman
Group News Editor

Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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