Seasonality is a thing of the past, port executive says

Date: Thursday, February 9, 2023
Source: Supply Chain Dive

Volatile demand trends over the past few years have made forecasting ocean shipping cargo volumes more difficult, according to the head of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

“There is no longer any seasonality or predictability to the cargo peaks and valleys that our industry had become accustomed to,” port director Beth Rooney said in a State of the Port briefing on Jan. 25.

Cargo volumes, which soared at many ports over the past few years, are now being met with softening demand. The trend comes as retailers pull back orders to clear inventories and the warehouse market shows signs of cooling due to demand slowdown.

The Port of New York and New Jersey celebrated record volumes in 2022 including a four-month streak as the nation’s busiest containerport, President of Global Container Terminals John Atkins said at the event. The streak was broken in December, though, as cargo volumes fell nearly 21% YoY to 613,011 TEUs.

Rooney said the port had noticed a “rather sharp decline in volume and a softening of the market,” since October. The slowdown was due to the extended lunar new year shutdowns, rising COVID-19 cases in China, rising costs, lower consumer spending and high inventory in warehouse and distribution centers, she added.

“We expect that market to remain soft but at more normalized levels through the first half of the year,” she said.


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