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Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Summer Slowdown for Area Ports

Summer Slowdown for Area Ports

By DAVID GREENBERG

Staff Reporter

Growth in cargo volume through the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach has slackened this summer due to lingering effects of the SARS virus and rate increases that caused importers to shift their fall and winter orders which usually begin arriving in summer to earlier arrival dates.

In the Los Angeles port, container traffic increased only 3.2 percent to 563,786 20-foot equivalent units in June, from 536,461 TEUs in the like year-earlier period. Since January, traffic volume in L.A. had been running 20 percent or more higher than year-ago levels.

Long Beach, meanwhile, continued to suffer the adverse effects of losing its largest tenant, the Maersk Sealand ship and terminal operation, to Los Angeles last August.

Long Beach handled 386,516 TEUs in June, 7.7 percent less cargo than the 418,977 TEUs in the like year-ago period. Shipments for the first six months of 2003 fell 5.2 percent.

Port officials said they expected July’s tallies, which have yet to be tabulated, to show the same growth patterns.

“In a normal year, in May, we start seeing volumes pick up, which would have Christmas-related merchandise in the containers,” said Al Fierstine, business development director for the Port of L.A. “But this has not been a normal year.”

The slowdown follows the outbreak late last year of severe acute respiratory syndrome, which killed more than 800 people and forced nearly all U.S. buyers (particularly in the apparel industry) to cancel trips to Asia this spring, when they normally order goods for the fall.

Other importers stockpiled on orders before the steamship lines imposed price increases on May 1, increasing the cost per box to $1,900 to $2,200.

June and July are generally healthy trade months, but the peak season runs from August through mid-October. Most of the Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas merchandise will begin arriving at the ports this month.

That will bode especially well for Long Beach, which won’t likely see any year-to-year growth resume until September.

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