Container volumes at the Port of Los Angeles inched up in May along seasonal trends. Imports increased 2.7 percent compared to May 2011, and exports were up less than 1 percent.
Total loaded containers, both inbound and outbound, increased 1.9 percent compared to May 2011, according to numbers released by the nation’s largest container port.
The volume of empty containers increased 18.8 percent as carriers repositioned containers back to Asia to be filled with exports of consumer merchandise for the back-to-school and holiday shopping seasons in the U.S. When empties are included, last month turned out to be the strongest May ever at the port.
Container volumes this year are trending along normal seasonal patterns in the trade between Asia and the U.S. Los Angeles started the year with strong imports in January and February before the Chinese New Year celebration in Asia shut down factories there.
March imports dropped noticeably, and March will probably be the lowest month of the year. Imports rebounded strongly in April and moved slightly higher in May. The imports in May were the highest monthly total of the year so far, but the volume is expected to continue increasing through September and October, which are the peak months of the year in the eastbound Pacific.
Exports follow a different pattern. Exports in Los Angeles peaked in March and have decreased slightly since then. Exports are expected to remain relatively soft over the next few months but they should pick up in the fall with the agricultural harvest.
When empties are included, overall container volumes in the January-May period increased 5.98 percent in Los Angeles over the same period in 2011.