Lower-Than-Expected Consumer Spending Causes Decreased Cargo Volumes at Port


Following a strong first quarter, container cargo volumes at the Port of Long Beach (POLB) fell in April, compared to the same month in 2015. The cause was typically lower, but lower than expected, consumer spending in recent months, according to the release, as well as changing vessel alliances that have altered ship deployments.

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Overall, container cargo volume was down 22.1 percent last month, compared to April of last year, while exports were down 18 percent. As the Post reported, last year's cargo growth was explosive, in comparison to recent years. 


"The additional berthing choices offered by vessel alliances are dispersing cargo across more terminals and ports,” said POLB CEO Jon Slangerup in a statement. “These volume shifts will continue to occur as newly formed alliances take shape. Our long-term outlook remains strong as we continue to invest in our facilities and offer world-class customer service.”

During the first four months of 2016, cargo volume was down 2.2 percent, reflecting a nationwide slowing in economic growth. U.S. GDP was up 1.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015 followed by 2016 first quarter GDP growth of only 0.5 percent, according to the release.

The Port moved a total of 478,842 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units, a standard shipping measure) in April, including 247,316 TEUs in imports of mostly consumer goods, while exports totaled 112,805 TEUs. Empty containers were down 25.8 percent to 118,721 TEUs.

“Economic conditions today are very volatile, but we remain confident in our long-term prospects,” said Harbor Commission President Lori Ann Guzmán in a statement. “The Port of Long Beach is preparing for economic uncertainty by carefully reviewing our budget and looking for savings at every opportunity. While we still have significant modernization projects planned for the next 10 years, the pace of the projects will be determined by the health of the economy.”

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