Ports on both sides of the continental U.S. experienced high import volume in May, driven by retail imports as stores stockpile products.
The Port of Charleston saw an 18-percent spike in imports compared to May 2021. It was reportedly the 15th consecutive month the South Carolina port set cargo record highs. All told, the state’s ports system moved 255,104 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) between the Wando Welch Terminal, North Charleston Terminal, and Leatherman Terminal, an increase of 11 percent over May of last year. South Carolina is in the midst of record-high container transportation, having moved 2.7 million TEUs during its fiscal year that began in July 2021. That stands as a 15 percent year-over-year increase to date.
“Our SC Ports team, maritime community, and logistics partners have made significant progress on our berth and terminal fluidity during ongoing supply chain challenges,” South Carolina Ports CEO Jim Newsome reportedly said. “As we continue to navigate this ever-changing environment, we are implementing creative solutions for shippers, such as giving berth priority to vessels taking out more cargo and deploying more than 1,000 chassis thus far from our new SMART Pool fleet.”
Expanding its Inland Port Greer appears to be paying dividends. The facility recently brought 2,600 feet of rail track processing space online. That stretch gives the facility 4,800 feet of additional track to handle longer trains. Officials’ early plans to grow infrastructure allowed Inland Port Greer to kick in a 27 percent increase in capacity this year.
May also turned out to be the second-busiest month at the Port of Long Beach and, arguably, its best month in 2022. With union contracts under negotiations, workers processed 890,989 TEUs. That marked a 1.8 percent decrease compared to May 2021. However, last May was the busiest month in more than 100 years.
“We are moving an extraordinary amount of cargo and continue to work with industry partners to quickly move imports and empties off the docks. Looking ahead, we are ready for the traditional summertime surge to coincide with China’s recovery from a lengthy lockdown,” Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero reportedly said. “We are collaborating with federal, state, local, and industry stakeholders to find long-term solutions that will satisfy consumer demand and increase efficiency at the port.”
Port of Long Beach imports dipped by 1.7 percent and exports declined by 12.6 percent, as empty container movement improved by 2.6 percent overall. Port of Long Beach and Port of Los Angeles officials have withheld penalizing shippers and other companies with container dwell fees. The coercive policy was approved in October 2021 but never implemented.
However, empty outbound containers from Long Beach increased by 3.5 percent and that process could come under scrutiny now that the Ocean Shipping Reform Act has been signed into law.