The Port of Los Angeles handled 487,846 TEUs in February, a staggering 43% decline from February 2022’s monthly record and its worst February since 2009.
“February declines were exacerbated by an overall slowdown in global trade, extended Lunar New Year holiday closures in Asia, overstocked warehouses and a shift away from West Coast ports,” said Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka. “While we expect more cargo moving crossing our docks in March, volume will likely remain lighter than average in the first half of 2023.
The numbers paint a clear picture of container shipping’s slowdown following the pandemic-driven cargo surge that began subsiding last summer. February 2023 loaded imports reached 249,407 TEUs, down 41% compared to the previous year and -32% from January. Exports came in at 82,404 TEUs, a decline of 14% compared to last year. Empty containers landed at 156,035 TEUs, a 54% year-over-year decline.
“We’re using this volume lull to focus on new data and infrastructure initiatives to improve efficiency in preparation for increased throughput,” Seroka added.
Two months into 2023, total container volume stands at 1,213,860 TEUs compared to 1,723,360 TEUs in 2022, a 30% decline.
The Port of Los Angeles ranked as the busiest container port in the U.S. for a 23rd consecutive year in 2022 with 9.9 million TEUs handled, its second highest year on record behind 2021’s 10.7 million TEUs.
February volumes came in 10% below February 2020 levels, but 7.7% above March 2020 which was the slowest month following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Looking back further, last month was the Port of Los Angeles’ worst February since 2009 when the port handled 413,910 TEUs.