June volumes for Port of Long Beach and Port of Los Angeles are a mixed bag
July 16, 2013 - LM Editorial
June volumes at the Port of Los Angeles (POLA) and the Port of Long Beach (POLB) appear to be in line with the overall consensus that economic growth is moving along at a slow pace, even with some positive developments in the automotive and housing sectors.
POLA continues to feel the effects of volumes being been negatively impacted due to a new service line between ocean carriers MSC and CMA CGM that moved from POLA to neighboring Port of Long Beach (POLB) having recently commenced, with both carriers having established hubs at POLB, with vessels calling on POLB. MSC is sharing a POLB hub with COSCO and MSC is in a terminal sharing arrangement with Hanjin at POLB.
Total June volume at POLA was down 7.2 percent annually. Imports, which are primarily comprised of consumer goods, came in at 353,930 TEU—decreased 7.2 percent, and exports, which are primarily comprised of raw materials, at 174,418 TEU—were down 15 percent. Empty containers—at 170,122 TEU—were down 1 percent.
For the first six months of 2013, overall container volumes at POLA decreased 7.46 percent—or 299,244 TEU—compared to the same period in 2012 to come in at 3,710,959 TEU.
The Port of Long Beach saw modest annual gains in June, with total volumes up 1.8 percent at 565,476 TEU.
Imports saw a 1.8 percent jump to 565,476 TEU, and exports were up 0.1 percent at 133,800 TEU. Empties saw a marginal gain, rising by only 44 to 141,228 TEU.
On a year-to-date basis, POLB volumes are up 14.2 percent through the first six months of the year compared to 2012. During this period, imports are up 10.1 percent at 1,683,258 TEU, and exports are up 10.1 percent at 842,289 TEU. Empties are up 14.8 percent at 741,910 TEU.
POLB officials noted that larger ships began calling more frequently at the Port starting in mid to late 2012, and June 2012 was the top month for imports that year.
These relatively sluggish-to-moderate volumes at these prominent West Coast ports reflect how consumer demand, which was increasing in recent months, appears to have leveled off to a certain degree.
That was reflected in June retail sales numbers issued yesterday by the Department of Commerce and the National Retail Federation, too, which indicated that retail sales for the month were up 0.4 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively, compared to May.
What’s more, the Port Tracker report from the NRF and Hackett Associates issued last week explained that barring a sudden shift in economic activity, United States-bound import activity is expected to remain along its current trend lines of slow growth.
“Consumers continue to maintain a modicum of confidence and importers…have been building up their inventories,” wrote Ben Hackett, Hackett Associates Founder in the report. “The impact of the ‘sequester’ budget cuts is making its mark with reduced GDP in the second quarter but it remains well in positive territory and does not suffer from the same problems we see in Europe.”
But that does not mean everything is going great either, he cautioned, telling LM that U.S. Consumer demand still remains weak at a 1 percent growth rate even though the GDP is slightly above 2 percent.
Subscribe to Logistics Management magazine
entire logistics operation. Start your FREE subscription today!