Loaded inbound volumes at seven West Coast ports will see a 0.9-percent, year over year, decline during the second quarter of the year, ending the period at 2.8 million TEUs, according to Global Port Tracker.
In the third quarter, though, volume will increase by 2 percent to 2.99 million TEUs, followed by a 6.6-percent jump, year over year, in the fourth quarter. During the first three months of 2014, volumes are expected to rise by 7.2 percent to 2.75 million TEUs.
During the first quarter of the year, ports saw a slight jump in volumes, year over year, ending the three-month period at 2.56 million TEUs.
Activity is certainly off to a slow start. The ports of L.A., Long Beach and Oakland saw April inbound TEU volumes decline by 0.6 percent, year over year. April’s activity did, however, represent a 28.8-percent rise over volumes in March, which were sluggish due, in part, to the impact of the Chinese New Year.
BB&T Analysts point to weather as a driving factor in their prediction of increased freight flows. Snow in the Midwest kept cropping as late as early May, but with warmer weather moving in to stay, the analysts think freight will be busy until at least early July. Most of this activity will come in the form of seasonal freight and produce.
"Positive April retail sales data is encouraging heading towards the seasonally strong freight month of June. Truck anecdotes were generally weak in April as weather and the aforementioned weak retail sales in March impacted April’s flow of goods,” the analysts wrote in a guidance report. “April’s port volume rebound from March suggests better trucking anecdotes for late May and on into the Fourth of July.”
The overall forecast for the second half of the year is one of caution. The analysts noted that in recent history, a June peak for trucks has lead to a disappointing September in the trucking world. - Jon Ross