Container volume statistics confirm that West Coast ports in the first half of 2009 took a terrible beating, with overall volume falling a combined 20.7 percent compared to last year.
Container volume statistics compiled by Pacific Maritime Association confirm that West Coast ports in the first half of 2009 took a terrible beating, with overall volume falling a combined 20.7 percent compared to last year. According to the PMA, the total number of containers handled in Los Angeles-Long Beach declined 21.8 percent in the period January through June. Volumes were down 10.8 percent in Oakland, 22.1 percent in Portland and 22.1 percent in Seattle-Tacoma compared to the first six months of 2008.
Containerized imports were hit especially hard by the global recession as American consumers stopped buying all but essential items this year. Imports were down 21.7 percent in Los Angeles-Long Beach, 17.3 percent in Oakland, 31.4 percent in Portland and 27.1 percent in Seattle-Tacoma.
Exports in the first half of the year fell 22.1 percent in Los Angeles-Long Beach compared to the first six months of 2008, 5.5 percent in Oakland, 13.2 percent in Portland and 16.8 percent in Seattle-Tacoma.
Imports usually outnumber exports by a factor of two-to-one and Southern California accounts for more than two-thirds of the inbound trade on the West Coast. By that measure, ocean carriers can be somewhat optimistic because imports in Los Angeles-Long Beach have increased each month over the previous month in 2009 since March.
With the peak-shipping season at hand, it looks like container volumes in September and October will see a spike in traffic compared to the volumes this past spring and winter. However, imports will most likely be down by double digits compared to the peak shipping season in 2008.