OCTOBER container volumes at the Port of Los Angeles dropped by 25 per cent on the year amid slowing import demand and ongoing cargo shifts towards the US Atlantic and Gulf coasts as shippers look to alternative gateways for ex-Asian cargoes, the Port said.
Total volumes came to 678,429 TEU, down nearly 225,000 TEU from October 2021. Loaded imports dropped to 336,307 TEU, a drop of 28 per cent on the year, while loaded exports came to 89,722 TEU, down 8.7 per cent.
Retreating cargo throughput, which began in earnest in August of this year, led to the lowest October volume since 2009, with volumes 22 per cent below the five-year average, according to New York's S&P Global .
"[Declining cargo volumes were] even more pronounced in October which is traditionally one of our stronger months," said Port executive director Gene Seroka in a briefing.
Mr Seroka attributed the performance to bearish importers diverting imports to US East/Gulf Coast gateways, an unusually early peak season in June and July of this year, and a drop-off in durable products purchasing as consumer appetite shifted away from goods.
All of this against the backdrop, Mr Seroka added, of inflation and global macroeconomic headwinds which have pressured demand.
"We'll do everything in our power to get that cargo back because the best route between Asia and the United States is straight through the Port of Los Angeles." he said.
Longshore labour union contracts remain unresolved and at standstill after six months of negotiations, the uncertain outcome of which has led many shippers to reallocate cargoes to different ports.
"If [the] ILWU figures it out and gets signed, we would get more volumes into Los Angeles/Long Beach," a large footwear importer told S&P Global Commodity Insights.
As it stands, sentiment holds that a deal will not be struck before the end of the year, although the potential for a widespread strike remains unlikely.
"I'd encourage both parties to get that done sooner than later, let's knock this out, let's get it done," said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.