November volumes, for the Port of Los Angeles (POLA) and the Port of Long Beach (POLB) were down annually, according to respective data issued by the ports this week.
Total POLA November volumes, at 728,918 Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEU), were down 12.4% annually. Imports, at 371,350 TEU, slipped 12.2% annually, and exports, at 138,545 TEU, saw a 9.2% annual decline, falling for the 13th consecutive month. Empty containers dropped 14.8% to 219,024 TEU.
Even with the November decline, POLA volumes through the first 11 months of 2019 are on track with 2018, which is the all-time high for volumes in a single year, with volumes up 0.4% year-to-date.
“As we expected, 2019 winds down with volumes weakening, due largely to the U.S.-China trade war which continues to negatively impact American consumers, manufacturers and U.S. supply chain jobs,” said Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka in a statement. “Although we anticipate tariffs will linger well into 2020, we will continue to aggressively invest in our physical and digital infrastructure through this economic cycle.”
Total POLB volume, at 599,985 TEU, fell 3.5% annually. Imports, at 293,297 TEU, saw an 8.3% decrease, and exports, at 123,705 TEU, headed up 6.9%. Empty containers were down 1.7% to 182,992 TEU.
On a year-to-date basis, POLB volumes through November are off 5.2% annually, to 6,966,771 TEU, with 2019 on pace for its second-busiest year on record and off 5.2% compared to 2018, which was an all-time high.
“The effects of these tariffs are being felt by everyone, from American manufacturers and farmers to the consumers who purchase goods moving through our Port complex,” said Mario Cordero, Executive Director of the Port of Long Beach. “As we wait for a resolution to this protracted trade war, the Port will remain competitive by delivering exceptional customer service and moving ahead with capital improvement projects that will allow us to grow well into the future.”
In a research note, Todd Fowler, KeyBanc Capital Markets analyst, wrote that total POLA-POLA November volumes were seasonally soft and likely due to slightly elevated inventories.
“That said, our sense is holiday retail activity has been generally favorable to-date, with slower import activity potentially helping re-stocking activity in early 2020,” he wrote. “Looking ahead, we expect import volumes to decelerate sequentially to end 2019, but potentially benefit from an early Lunar New Year (January 25, 2020 vs. February 5, 2019) in early 2020. Assuming normal seasonality, we expect 4Q19 volumes to be down ~16% year-over-year following a ~1% decline in 3Q19, and down ~6% on a full-year basis in 2019.”
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