Container shipping stats at the Ports of Long Beach, LA, and Portland are all down. This is consistent with the Collapse of the Baltic Dry Shipping Index.

Inbound container stats year to date are down 9.0% year to date at LA, 10.8% at Long Beach, and 9.9% at Portland. This does not portend well for expected consumer demand headed into the all important Christmas season.

And based on The New Age Of Consumer Frugality with Frugality to Appear In State Budgets as well, I expect this trend towards lower TEUs to last far more than one year. It’s payback time for massive numbers of years of over-consumption on housing financed debt and loose lending standards.

With that backdrop, let’s take a look at a few container shipping charts.

Port of Long Beach California

Long Beach Container Trade in TEUs

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TEUs: 20-foot equivalent units or 20-foot-long cargo container.
The size of cargo containers range from 20 feet long to more than 50 feet long. The international measure is the smallest box, the 20-footer or 20-foot-equivalent unit (TEU).

Yearly TEUs

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The charts show exports are up, imports way down, and the year to date TEUs are negative. At the Port of Long Beach, this will be only the second decline in TEUs since 1995. The last decline was in 2001, during the last recession.

Port of LA

Port of LA TEU Stastics

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Port of Portland Monthly Statistics

Marine Shipping Statistics From the Port of Portland.

  • NUMBER OF CALLS BY OCEANGOING VESSELS -4.1% CHANGE CALENDAR YEAR-TO-DATE
  • TOTAL TONNAGE 4.5% CHANGE CALENDAR YEAR-TO-DATE
  • BREAKBULK TOTAL TONNAGE -8.6% CHANGE CALENDAR YEAR-TO-DATE
  • NUMBER OF CONTAINERS (TEUs) TOTAL, LOAD + DISCHARGE -6.6% CHANGE CALENDAR YEAR-TO-DATE
  • NUMBER OF CONTAINERS (TEU) LOAD -9.9% CHANGE CALENDAR YEAR-TO-DATE
  • NUMBER OF CONTAINERS (TEU) DISCHARGE -2.1% CHANGE CALENDAR YEAR-TO-DATE
  • GRAIN TONNAGE 10.2% CHANGE CALENDAR YEAR-TO-DATE
  • AUTO UNITS -2.8% CHANGE CALENDAR YEAR-TO-DATE
  • MINERAL BULK TONNAGE 8.1% CHANGE CALENDAR YEAR-TO-DATE

Grains and minerals are up at Portland (exports), everything else is down. Indeed, imports are down and exports are up across the board at all three ports. This is additional evidence that the vaunted US consumer has at long last thrown in the towel.

Retailers to watch at Christmas include Walmart (WMT), Target (TGT), Sears (SHLD), and JC Penny (JCP) . Home Depot (HD) and Lowes (LOW) also have popular gifts for men. If the season shapes up as expected, sales and especially profits will be down at most of these stores as competition increases for fewer and fewer consumer discretionay spending dollars.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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