Restocking Drives January US Port Activity

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The past few years have brought plenty of questions as to whether the COVID-19 pandemic changed supply chains permanently or, once constraints eased, if supply chains would return to pre-pandemic patterns, says an article published on freight waves website.

Summary

  • Port of New York and New Jersey saw a 3.4% increase in activity in January, handling 667,346 TEUs.
  • Growth extends beyond pandemic with a 7.2% rise compared to January 2019.
  • Loaded imports surged, comprising over 75% of handled TEUs.
  • Loaded imports increased by 2.6% year over year, surpassing pre-pandemic levels by 18.6%.
  • Loaded exports declined by 6.7% year over year due to adverse winter weather impacting rail traffic.
  • Port of Long Beach witnessed a significant uptick in activity, handling 674,015 TEUs, marking a 17.5% increase from the previous year.

East Coast Ports, Port Of New York And New Jersey

The Port of New York and New Jersey, the nation’s second-busiest port for loaded imports, exhibited a promising growth trajectory in January. Handling 667,346 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), it marked a 3.4% increase year over year. Impressively, this growth extends beyond the pandemic, with a 7.2% rise compared to January 2019. While falling short of the peak years of 2021 and 2022, January 2024 remains the third-busiest start of the year on record. Despite concerns over global conflicts and transit limitations, loaded imports surged, comprising over 75% of handled TEUs.

Loaded Imports And Exports Dynamics

Loaded imports showcased robust growth, up by 2.6% year over year, making it the third-strongest January on record. Notably, this growth outpaced pre-pandemic levels, rising by 18.6% compared to January 2019. However, loaded exports experienced a decline, down by 6.7% year over year, influenced by adverse winter weather impacting rail traffic.

West Coast Ports, Port Of Long Beach

The Port of Long Beach, California, witnessed a significant uptick in activity, handling 674,015 TEUs in January, marking a notable 17.5% increase from the previous year. Import growth was particularly robust, with loaded inbound TEUs soaring by 23.5% year over year, driven by retailers stocking up ahead of Lunar New Year celebrations.

Impact Of Lunar New Year And Export Dynamics

The pull-forward effect ahead of Lunar New Year festivities contributed to the surge in imports, likely extending its influence into February. Similar to its East Coast counterpart, the Port of Long Beach experienced a decline in loaded export TEUs, down by 18.1% from the previous year. However, overall TEU numbers increased due to a substantial rise in exported empty containers, up by 30.1% year over year.

Conclusion

Despite fluctuations in export dynamics and external factors such as global conflicts and weather conditions, both East and West Coast ports in the US demonstrated resilience and growth in January, fueled by restocking efforts and strategic market maneuvers ahead of seasonal events like Lunar New Year.

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Source: freight waves