The Port of Los Angeles, the nation’s busiest, has processed 726,014 TEU in January 2023, which represents a 16 per cent decrease from the previous January’s record month.
This slowdown in cargo is expected to continue in the first quarter of 2023, particularly compared to last year’s record-breaking start, according to Gene Seroka, Executive Director at the Port of Los Angeles.
As factories in Asia had extended Lunar New Year closures, retailers continued to discount products to clear warehouses, and inflation-led economic concerns remained top of mind for Americans, Seroka explained.
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In terms of cargo, January loaded imports reached 372,040 TEU, down 13 per cent compared to the previous year.
Loaded exports came in at 102,723 TEU, an increase of 2.5 per cent compared to last year, while empty containers landed at 251,251 TEU, representing a 26 per cent year-over-year decline.
Seroka emphasized that the port would be keeping an eye on vessel utilisation rates since the same number of ships called at its terminals, despite the decline in cargo.
Adding to 17 cancelled sailings in January, Seroka said the port is expecting more blank sailings in the weeks and months ahead as well as a continued slowdown from the Transpacific trade.
“Looking into February, we’ll see a significant volume decline and a softer market heading into quarter two,” he said.
San Pedro Bay’s neighbour, the Port of Long Beach recently reported a slow start to the year as well, moving 573,772 TEU in January 2023.
The figure stands 28.4 per cent down from the year prior, which also marked the busiest January on record with 800,943 TEU.
Despite recent developments, the Port of Los Angeles still witnessed significant increase in container traffic in 2022, moving 9.9 million TEU, the second highest in the port’s history.
This achievement solidifies the port’s position as the busiest container port in the nation for the 23rd time in a row.