The Port of Long Beach marked its second-busiest year on record by moving 9.13 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in 2022, as it marked a "return to normal operations."
The Port closed last year, handling 9,133,657 TEUs of cargo, down 2.7% from 2021, which remains the port’s most active year in its 112-year history.
Port of Long Beach said imports declined 4.9% to 4,358,789 TEUs, while exports totalled 1,414,882 TEUs, marking a 1.6% drop year-on-year.
Despite the slight decline, the Port of Long Beach noted that it remained the nation's leading export port for a second consecutive year for loaded TEUs.
It said that empty containers processed through the Port also decreased a narrow 0.14% from a year earlier to 3,359,986 TEUs.
"Cargo is moving smoothly as we move past the economic effects of COVID-19," said Mario Cordero, executive director of the Port of Long Beach.
"In 2023, we will continue to invest in digital and physical infrastructure projects, focus on market share and develop long-term improvements that will strengthen our competitiveness and keep goods moving efficiently."
Sharon L. Weissman, Long Beach Harbor Commission president, said despite the challenges of the last two years, the port has focused on longtime customer relationships and invested in projects that put us closer to a zero-emissions future.
"In the year ahead, we will collaborate with our skilled workforce, industry partners, and communities surrounding the Port to build upon those improvements and secure our position as the Port of Choice for trans-Pacific trade," Weissman added.
Port of Long Beach noted that a rise in online purchases and aggressive efforts to transfer long-dwelling cargo off the docks bolstered trade moving through the Port during the first half of 2022, with monthly cargo records in January, February, March, April, June and July.
Consumer spending cooled by summer due to rising prices driven by inflation, while vessel transfers between the San Pedro Bay ports and a shift in imported goods toward the Gulf and East coasts contributed to a softening of cargo volume during the second half of 2022.
Further decline in cargo for 2023
It added that the easing returned the Port to normal operations by year's end.
"Economists are forecasting a further decline in cargo volumes through 2023 as consumers shift their purchases to services over goods," Port of Long Beach said.
The port noted that trade was down 27.9% in December compared to the same period in 2021, with 544,104 TEUs moved.
Imports dropped 32.6% to 241,643 TEUs, while exports increased 1.6% to 115,782 TEUs. Empty containers were down 33.7% to 186,680 TEUs.