ATLANTA – The Georgia Ports Authority saw a rare drop in activity last month.
The Port of Savannah handled 464,883 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) of containerized cargo in November, down 6.2% compared to the same month last year.
However, Savannah’s numbers show a 28% increase when measured over three years. This growth rate is much higher than pre-pandemic authority expansion, which averaged 4% to 5% per year.
“Container trade at US ports is returning to a more sustainable growth pattern, which is a positive development for the logistics industry,” said Griff Lynch, the authority’s executive director.
“Along with the addition of more than 1 million TEUs of annual capacity, a slight reduction in demand will mean faster vessel service as we work to bring a new large vessel berth online at the Garden Terminal City in July.”
The impact of inflation and a change in consumer spending patterns are partly responsible for a reduction in production and subsequent demand for containers. The weather also played a role in November’s decline.
The Savannah River Canal was closed to larger vessels for more than three days last month due to adverse weather conditions, including Tropical Storm Nicole.
“While we are planning for a moderation in container trade, we expect volumes to remain strong, albeit shy of last year’s historic levels,” said authority board chairman Joel Wooten. “Announcements from automakers and other manufacturers coming to Georgia, as well as a number of their suppliers, will mean healthy trade growth in the long term.”
Lynch said the current lull has allowed the Port of Savannah to reduce the number of container ships waiting in port to 17, down 43% since early November, when there were 30 ships at berth. The authority expects to clear the backlog by early next month.