Top 9 US ports of 2020: The adverse Impact of COVID-19 on shipping

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The United States is one of the largest economies in the world and exports products to almost all the countries around the world. This exporting is possible mainly due to its vast port industry.

But 2020 was a year of chaos due to the Covid pandemic and every business in every country was affected by it. Even the top 9 ports of the US was hit at some point of the year.

Let’s have a look at the top 9 ports in the US and how they performed in the year 2020.

1.    Los Angeles

The Port of Los Angles is the largest gateway that handles international cargo and this port handled loaded inbound of about 1.3 million TEUs (Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit) cargo year-to-date, which is an 11.2 percent decrease comparing to the same of the previous year. The loaded outbound was about 534,142 TEUs, which again is 11.3 percent less compared to 2019.

Despite the Covid situation, there has been the usual demand for industrial space in Los Angeles, including the ports. To be precise, the industrial market that showed the highest in-demand in the country was the Inland Empire, located to the East, 50 miles of the Los Angeles port.

2.    Long Beach, Calif.

The Port of Long Beach, in California, supports the industrial markets similar to the Los Angeles port. Loaded inbound of about 1 million TEUs (year to date) was handled by this port, which is 12.2 percent lesser than the previous year. The loaded outbound showed a decrease of only 0.9 percent and 482,127 TEUs of cargo were handled this year.

Even before the pandemic, 2019 showed a trending down of TEUs, and the situation was worsened by the pandemic lowering both its outbound and inbound TEUs in total. However, a volume uptick was experienced in May 2020, where a 9.5 percent increase in volume was shown compared to the same period in 2019.

3.    New York and New Jersey

The ports in New York and New Jersey both handled a steady cargo of about 2.3 million TEUs, which remained steady till April that is the first four months of the year. Compared to the records of the previous year this represented a 3.4 percent decline.

Loaded inbound of about 1.2 million TEUs was handled this year, and this showed a decline of 2.1 percent, year-over-year. The loaded outbound was about 466,381 TUEs, which shows a loss of about 4.1 percent compared to last year. Apart from the decline in numbers, a demand for more than 1 million square feet of distribution space and warehouse was created by the cargo from the port, within a 50 mile radius.

4.    Houston

2020 was not good for the Houston market at the beginning and the market was faced with 2 big crises, the oil price collapse and the COVID pandemic and shutdowns. Loaded inbound of about 383,306 TEUs was handled by the port of Houston in 2020, which is a 2.3 percent decline compared to 2019. The loaded outbound was 436, 416 TEUs (year-over-year) which showed a 9.3 percent increase comparatively.

Unlike other markets, the port of Houston does not drive the industrial demand for its surrounding area alone, but also for many regional markets. The most important among them being the area of Dallas-Forth Worth. From Amazon to Home Depot, these markets have seen huge retail operators expand to large industrial facilities.

A 1 billion dollar project was recently approved to widen the channel of the Houston port, by the United States Army Corps of Engineers. This was done so that the marine terminals will be able to control two 14,000 TEU ships at once and also to expand the capacity of the port. The construction project is likely to begin in 2021.

5.    Savannah, Ga.

The port of Savannah handled about 3.7 million TEUs and set a record at the end of the year 2019. But when it came to 2020 (till September) the inbounds TEUs handled was just 672,482, which showed a decline of 6.8 percent. The loaded outbound handled was about 505,539 TEUs, which showed a decline of 1.7 percent.

Despite the impact of the Covid, positive absorption of more than `1.6 million square feet was seen at the beginning of 2020 in the Savannah industrial market. A flow of imports was seen from the port of Savannah to industrial markets like Atlanta.

By the first quarter of 2020, the development of industrial space stretching to about 23.4 million square feet was seen in both the Savannah and Atlanta markets. This has created plenty of space for users if they are planning to adjust their inventory levels and expand.

6.    Virginia

The highest volume of loaded containers in a decade was seen in the Port of Virginia in 2019. There were almost 2.3 million containers during this time. However, 2020 saw a steep decline of 10 percent of the total TEU volume of the port.

Loaded inbound of 405,882 was handled by the port in 2020 up to September, which is a decline of 8.1 percent compared to 2019. The loaded outbound was about 322,081 TEUs, which again represented a 2.2 percent decline comparatively.

The Virginia port’s industrial markets continued to serve huge port tenets like Amazon. This company, despite the pandemic situation, announced plans to occupy an industrial space of 5.5 square feet in Richmond and Norfolk.

7.    Seattle

The ports of Seattle and Tacoma combine for the Northwest Seaport Alliance that handled loaded inbound of 375,565 TEUs, which is an 18 percent decrease compared to the last year. Loaded outbound of 281,313 TEUs was handled which again is an 8.3 percent decline compared to 2019.

Even though we can expect the port surrounding industrial markets, like Puget Sound, to experience some softening due to the Covid, Colliers researchers believe that the reliability of the area mainly on high tech industries will promote its growth and the demand for space to rise quickly.

8.    Oakland, Calif.

The Port of Oakland was one of the busiest shipping ports in the country and was also one to suffer due to the Covid pandemic. The container volume till Sep 2020 of the year showed a decrease of 5 percent compared to the same period of the previous year.

Loaded inbound of 298,475 TEUs was handled by the port in the first quarter, which was a 2.9 percent decrease compared to the last year. The loaded outbound however showed an increase of 3.7 percent compared to 2019.

9.    Charleston, S.C.

Loaded inbound of 337,761 TEUs was handled by the Port of Charleston till Sep 2020, which is a drop of 2.5 percent from the previous year. The decline in loaded outbound was 1.6 percent, which amounted to only 272,428 TEUs.

It is expected for the port and the nearby environment to make a fast recovery in the year 2021 due to demand from the 3PLS of cold storage, according to the Colliers researchers

 

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