Cargo volumes in the Port of Long Beach are falling amidst busy warehouses and changing trade routes Ship’s crew

Trade in the Port of Long Beach saw a significant drop in cargo volume in March 2023, down nearly a third from the same period last year, as retailers continue to clear warehouses and shippers shift routes to seaports on the East and Gulf Coasts.

Monthly data released by the Port of Long Beach shows dockers and terminal operators moved 603,878 20-foot units (TEU) over the past month, down 30% from March 2022, the port’s busiest March since beginning of the recordings.

The data also showed that imports fell 34.7% to 279,148 TEUs, while exports rose 16.9% to 133,512 TEUs. Empty containers moved through the port also fell by 40.5% to 191,218 TEU.

Despite these numbers, volumes in March were up 11% compared to February and up 5% compared to January.

Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero noted that “warehouses remain full and fewer shipping containers crossing docks because consumer spending remains low,” adding that the port is working with its industry partners to gain market share recapture lost at East and Gulf Coast ports since 2021 due to congestion and uncertainty at West Coast labor talks.

Sharon L. Weissman, President of the Long Beach Harbor Commission, said, “We continue to invest in our infrastructure projects and look for ways to move cargo efficiently and sustainably so our customers, new and old, are reminded why we are the port of choice . We will be ready when freight volumes pick up again.”

The drop in trade in the Port of Long Beach reflects a broader trend in the economy as consumers spend less on slower income growth, shrinking savings buffers and rising credit card debt. However, economists say financial markets are beginning to stabilize after fears of a banking crisis in March.

The Port of Long Beach moved 1,721,326 TEUs in the first quarter of 2023, down 30% from the same period in 2022. Data suggests the port faces significant challenges, but officials remain optimistic that the Economy will eventually recover and trade volume will rise again.

A new Descartes Systems Group report released Tuesday revealed that West Coast ports are losing about 1 million TEUs annually to East and Gulf Coast ports as trading patterns have accelerated since 2021. With no end in sight to the lengthy work talks, it’s really anyone’s guess if, when or to what extent West Coast ports will be able to regain their share of the imports lost during the pandemic.

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