Tuesday, June 11, 2019

LA area Port Traffic Down Year-over-year in May

by Calculated Risk on 6/11/2019 05:24:00 PM

Special note: The expansion to the Panama Canal was completed in 2016 (As I noted a few years ago), and some of the traffic that used the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach is probably going through the canal. This might be impacting TEUs on the West Coast.

On the impact of the trade war, from Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero: “One year into the trade war, escalating tariffs have pushed retailers to order goods early, warehouses are brimming with inventory as a result, and in response, ocean carriers are managing their vessels to deal with reduced demand,” Cordero said. “We are hopeful Washington and Beijing can resolve their differences before we see long-term changes to the supply chain that impact jobs in both nations.” emphasis added

Container traffic gives us an idea about the volume of goods being exported and imported - and usually some hints about the trade report since LA area ports handle about 40% of the nation's container port traffic.

The following graphs are for inbound and outbound traffic at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in TEUs (TEUs: 20-foot equivalent units or 20-foot-long cargo container).

To remove the strong seasonal component for inbound traffic, the first graph shows the rolling 12 month average.

LA Area Port TrafficClick on graph for larger image.

On a rolling 12 month basis, inbound traffic was down 0.5% in May compared to the rolling 12 months ending in April.   Outbound traffic was down 0.7% compared to the rolling 12 months ending the previous month.

The 2nd graph is the monthly data (with a strong seasonal pattern for imports).

LA Area Port TrafficUsually imports peak in the July to October period as retailers import goods for the Christmas holiday, and then decline sharply and bottom in February or March depending on the timing of the Chinese New Year (February 5th in 2019).

In general imports have been increasing, and exports have mostly moved sideways over the last 8 years.