by Calculated Risk on 3/17/2023 03:16:00 PM
Notes: The expansion to the Panama Canal was completed in 2016 (As I noted several 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.
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.
Click on graph for larger image.
On a rolling 12-month basis, inbound traffic decreased 3.4% in February compared to the rolling 12 months ending in January. Outbound traffic decreased 0.8% compared to the rolling 12 months ending the previous month.
Usually 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.
Imports were down 38% YoY in February, and exports were down 9% YoY. The volume of containers unloaded last year was much stronger because of all the ships waiting to unload.
It is possible that exports have bottomed after declining for several years (even prior to the pandemic).