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Port of Long Beach: Consumer spending decline contributed to import drop

The Port of Long Beach’s executive director said a drop in consumer spending contributed to a nearly 35% year-over-year (y/y) drop in imports at the West Coast gateway. 

“Warehouses remain full and fewer cargo containers are crossing the docks because consumer spending remains slow,” Mario Cordero said in a statement Wednesday. “We are ready for a rebound in retail as we work with our industry partners to recapture market share.”

Regarding market share, the port’s news release said shippers continue to “shuffle routes from the West Coast to seaports on the East and Gulf coasts.” 

It did not say why the shuffling was occurring, although it has been going on for more than a year, beginning with severe container ship congestion in San Pedro Bay and continuing with fears of a prolonged labor shutdown, as members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union have been working without a contract since last July. 

As a result of the impacts, the Port of Long Beach moved 603,878 twenty-foot equivalent units in March. That’s down 30% from March 2022, which happened to be the port’s busiest March on record. 

Loaded imports decreased 34.7% y/y to 279,148 TEUs, while loaded exports increased 16.9% to 133,512 TEUs. The number of empty containers moved through the port dropped 40.5% to 191,218 TEUs.

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