Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Monthly Cargo Volumes Still Down in Seattle

Seattle Harbor container volumes were down 16 percent for July 2013 vs. the same month in 2012 and are down 21.2 percent year-to-date, according to newly-released data.

Port of Seattle terminals moved nearly 135,000 TEUs last month, down from more than 160,000 in July 2012. For the calendar year to date, Seattle has seen about 925,300 TEUs, compared to more than 1.17 million TEUs through the same month last year.

The port has seen volumes decline each month this year, with the cause mostly attributed to its loss of the Grand Alliance group of shippers, which in July 2012 began three new calls each week at Washington United Terminals, having moved their business from the Port of Seattle. Since the shift, Tacoma has seen year-over-year container volume increases while Seattle has experienced the opposite.

The Grand Alliance is a consortium of three of the world’s largest shipping lines – Germany-based Hapag-Lloyd, Orient Overseas Container Line of Hong Kong and Japanese company NYK Line – along with associated carrier ZIM Integrated Shipping of Israel.

The good news for Seattle regarding its July 2013 container numbers is that with the Grand Alliance volume shift factored out, the port’s full outbound volumes are up 4.2 percent YTD. There’s also more good news: July marked the end of the one-year period since the Grand Alliance shifted over to Tacoma, so beginning with August, Seattle is expected to show positive year-over-year gains.

Tacoma released its July 2013 cargo volumes earlier this month, and they showed a leveling off from the double-digit increases it saw during the first 11 months of the Grand Alliance shift. Tacoma terminals saw a total of 146,017 TEUs in July, virtually identical to the number seen in July 2012.

As a region, the ports of Seattle and Tacoma are down 8.3 percent for July 2013 vs. 2012 and down 2 percent YTD, according to Seattle data.