THE Ports of Los Angeles (POLA) and Long Beach (POLB) suffered lower container throughput in February compared to the previous year with total POLA volumes in February dropping 2.7 per cent year on year to 705,306 TEU, although, the result still marked the third highest volume for a February in the port's history.
Imports at Los Angles declined by 9.08 per cent to 348,316 TEU, while exports contracted by 9.5 per cent to 142,554 TEU. Empty containers, on the other hand, rose 16.3 per cent to 214,436 TEU in February.
"After the busiest seven months in the history of our port, the anticipated ease in cargo volume provides an opportunity for us to regroup with our stakeholders," said port of Los Angeles director Gene Seroka in a statement.
"With an uneven trade flow, we will be closely evaluating next steps for enhancing supply chain efficiencies."
At the port of Long Beach, total volume came in at 596,616 TEU in February, which marked a 9.8 per cent year-on-year drop. Imports were down 11.5 per cent at 302,865 TEU and exports contracted by 19.6 per cent to 105,287 TEU. Empty containers, at 188,465 TEU, remained flat.
Like POLB, POLA officials pointed to what it called a lull in shipping connected to the timing of the Lunar New Year, which fell later this year in February, coupled with coming off of a record-breaking January. Even with that backdrop, POLB's February volume was its second busiest for the month in its 108 years of operations.
"Overall, our volumes have increased and cargo flow has become more consistent as retailers constantly replenish inventory in the e-commerce economy," port of Long Beach director Mario Cordero was cited as saying. "Last year set high standards. We had our busiest months and year ever but we are still expecting modest growth in 2019."
On a cumulative basis, POLA and POLB volumes were down 10 per cent annually, and 14 per cent compared to January, observed KeyBanc Capital Markets analyst Todd Fowler in a research note.
"Looking ahead, we expect volumes to potentially rebound sequentially in March as the impact of the Lunar New Year subsides combined with additional Easter/spring merchandise, and continue to build ahead of the summer shipping peak," Mr Fowler said.