Imports through the Port of Long Beach, the No. 2 U.S. seaport, fell last month as a slowing economy cut into consumer demand for goods from abroad, port officials said.
Led by back-to-school orders of clothing and shoes, shipments declined 7.4% in July to 208,179 20-foot-long containers from 225,000 in the same month a year earlier. Exports, mainly raw and semi-finished goods such as plastics, chemicals, paper and metal, fell 10.3% to 77,956 containers from 86,874 in July of last year.
"Right now we're heading into the peak holiday season, and it doesn't look like we're going to even match last year's numbers, never mind improve," port spokesman Art Wong said.
At the neighboring Port of Los Angeles, the top shipping gateway in the U.S., the trade picture was brighter. Imports increased by 2.7% last month to 238,958 containers from 232,730 containers a year earlier.
Exporters moved 86,879 containers through the Port of Los Angeles in July, a 7.4% increase from the same month a year earlier, when 80,864 containers were exported.