North American Ports Volume Drops 20 Percent Annually in 2023

North American Ports Volume Drops 20 Percent Annually in 2023

Commercial News » Los Angeles Edition | By Michael Gerrity | June 15, 2023 9:08 AM ET

Ports slowdown driven by weakening U.S. consumer sentiment

According to a new report by CBRE, in Q1 of 2023, total container volume at the top 13 North American ports fell by 20% year-over-year to 12.3 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs).

Houston was the only one with increased container volume in Q1, up by 3.4% year-over-year.

Los Angeles had the biggest decrease, down by 32%. Total West Coast container volume fell by 24% and East Coast volume was down by 18%. While rising interest rates, high inflation and less consumer spending contributed to the drop in container volume, seaport activity levels are normalizing.

This is not a surprise as many shippers relied on East and South Coast ports in early 2022 to avoid West Coast port backups.

Record-high container volume in 2022 was the result of strong consumer demand. But as consumer sentiment wanes in 2023, demand is beginning to normalize. The ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach and New York/New Jersey all have lower container volumes from a year ago, which are nearing pre-pandemic levels. 

U.S. Seaport, Inland Port and Non-Port Market Comparisons

Industrial vacancy rates rose across all three port types in Q1, with the inland ports recording the biggest increase by 60 basis points (bps) to 4.2%. The overall vacancy rate for seaport markets rose by 30 bps to 3.0%, while the rate for non-port markets increased by 40 bps to 3.3%.

Seaport markets with the lowest vacancy rates were Savannah (0.6%), Charleston (0.7%), Los Angeles (1.3%) and Portland (2.3%).

Non-port markets had the most combined Q1 net absorption totaling 35.2 million sq. ft. The Pennsylvania I-78/81 Corridor posted the highest amount at 7.1 million sq. ft.


CBRE Inland Ports Data 2023.jpg
CBRE Overall Ports Data Q1, 2023.jpg

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