POLA and POLB volumes are mixed in July
August 16, 2013 - LM Editorial
Volumes at the Port of Los Angeles (POLA) and the Port of Long Beach (POLB) were mixed in July.
As previously reported, 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 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.
But even with that carrier shift POLA had a relatively good month, with total July volumes of 562,166 TEU (Twenty-foot Equivalent) down 1.48 percent annually. Despite the slight annual decline, July represents the busiest cargo month of 2013 to day, according to POLA officials.
POLA imports, which are primarily comprised of consumer goods, came in at 370,745 TEU for a .30 percent decrease. Exports fell 4.83 percent to 157,585 TEU. Empty containers dropped .86 percent to 187,309 TEU.
On a year-to-date basis, POLA volumes are down 6.54 percent at 4,426,599.60 TEU.
July volumes at POLB was up 7.6 percent annually at 562,166 TEU.
Imports were up 12.9 percent at 294,926 TEU, and exports rose 6.2 percent to 132,290 TEU. Empties were down 1.3 percent at 134,950 TEU.
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. But industry stakeholders say that could change with back-to-school and holiday shopping taking hold in the coming weeks.
Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett wrote in the Port Tracker report his firm produces with the National Retail Federation that the economy is on a slow and steady course of recovery. And he added that the report expects first half volumes for west coast ports to be up 6 percent annually, but he also cautioned that the inventory-to-sales ratio remains a concern as it remains in a still-high range of 128 to 130.
In a recent interview with LM, Hackett said that the rate of growth is decent but not spectacular, which could be due in part the federal budget sequester.
He added that while consumers are making purchases, it is not happening at a fervent pace, and while overall 2013 growth was lowered from 2.8 percent to 2.4 percent, he pointed out that much of that growth is expected to come from increased activity in the second half of this year.
“A good amount of that growth is likely to come from back-to-school and the holiday season, but we are keeping our eye on housing starts as well, which we expect to continue to pick up as the year goes on,” said Hackett.
Hackett added that August and September could be promising based on the strong import performance into U.S. ports out of China in July.
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