The Port of Long Beach reports another weak month in February amid busy warehouses, slower consumer spending and the closure of East Asian factories for the Lunar New Year holiday.
Dockers and terminal operators in the port moved 543,675 TEUs last month, down 31.7% from the monthly record set in February 2022, as efforts were underway to unload durable cargo from the terminals.
Imports shipped totaled 254,970 TEU in February, down 34.7% year-on-year and 3% below January, but still 2.5% above pre-pandemic February 2020 levels.
Exports fell 5.9% to 110,919 TEU while empty containers moving through the country fell 38.3% to 177,787 TEU.
“Trade continues to normalize after the record-breaking cargo numbers we saw early last year,” said Port of Long Beach executive director Mario Cordero. “We invest in infrastructure projects that keep us competitive while working with industry stakeholders to focus on trade volume.”
The Port of Long Beach said trade usually slows in February as East Asian factories close for up to two weeks for the Lunar New Year. Economists say the year started stronger than expected, but shifts in trade routes and inflation-driven price increases contributed to a drop in shipments as retailers continued to clear stocks, the port said.
So far, there is no sign of a significant improvement in US trade volumes, but the National Retail Federation forecasts that import volumes from major US container ports will “slowly increase” until at least mid-summer.
“Our facilities, dockers, ship terminal operators and all of our industry partners make this the premier gateway for the transpacific movement of goods,” said Sharon L. Weissman, President of the Long Beach Ports Commission. “This traditionally slow time of year provides an opportunity to focus on long-term projects and the operational excellence that makes us the port of choice.”