Inbound containers coming into Long Beach were down 14.2 percent in August compared with a year earlier, while outbound cargo was down almost 4 percent. At the Port of L.A. inbound was off 5.7 percent, though outbound jumped nearly 25 percent (reflecting a steady increase in exports). But it's the goods coming in that account for much of the trade activity, and on that front things are slowing down. Retailers are starting to receive goods for the holiday shopping season, so the big drop could indicate a cautious approach to ordering. From the LAT:
Jock O'Connell, an economist for Beacon Economics, said that retailers might be hoping to keep inventories lean enough to be able to demand top prices for their goods rather than leave themselves in a position of having too much stock and having to discount prices. He added that they can only wait so long if they expect to have goods on store shelves by the holiday shopping season. "At some point, they have to pull the trigger," O'Connell said. "But all the economic forecasts seems to be pairing back from what they were saying a month ago. There was a hope that consumer demand would accelerate. I think there is a lot of hedging of bets right now."