The Port of Savannah grew container volumes by nearly 10 percent in the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2023. A shift in consumer spending and inflation pressures are expected to moderate demand for port services in the coming months. (Georgia Ports Authority)
GPA expects growth to moderate in coming months
SAVANNAH, Ga., October 13, 2022 – The Georgia Ports Authority handled more than 1.5 million twenty-foot equivalent container units in the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2023 (July-September), an increase of 135,000 TEUs, or 9.6 percent over the same period last year.
“A high number of ad hoc vessel calls, the addition of three new Mediterranean services, and one new service to Asia contributed to the growth,” said GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch. “Additionally, our regular services have been arriving with significantly more cargo destined for Savannah.”
Lynch said the average vessel exchange grew from 3,500 TEUs per ship this time last year, to 4,500 TEUs across the past three months. The Port of Savannah handled 776,067 TEUs of loaded and empty exports in the first quarter, while import trade totaled 766,525 TEUs. Loaded containers represented 70 percent of the total container trade.
In intermodal rail, GPA grew lifts 6.4 percent in the first quarter. Counting all rail cargo moved through Garden City Terminal, the Appalachian Regional Port and GPA’s pop-up container yards, rail lifts totaled nearly 146,000 for the three-month period, an increase of 8,775.
“While we have seen powerful growth across the first quarter, we are beginning to see signs of correction in the market,” Lynch said, noting that September container volumes were off by 7.6 percent compared to the same month last year, at 436,279 TEUs. A nearly three-day suspension of vessel service related to Hurricane Ian impacted September volumes at the Port of Savannah.
GPA Board Chairman Joel Wooten said the Authority’s outlook for the rest of the calendar year is strong, but moderated compared to the rate of growth experienced over the past two years
“We’re expecting a gradual easing in demand based on several factors, including a shift in the balance of consumer spending away from goods and back to services, and the impact of inflation on the economy,” Wooten said. “After having increased trade at a compound annual growth rate of 14 percent over the past two fiscal years, this change will represent a return to a more typical rate of growth for GPA.”
An easing of demand should help U.S. ports address vessel backlogs brought on by unprecedented import volumes, Lynch said. The Port of Savannah expects to clear the need for vessels to wait at anchor by the end of November. Presently, approximately 204,600 containers are on the water headed for Savannah, down from a high of 262,500 in July.
Georgia’s deepwater ports and inland barge terminals support more than 561,000 jobs throughout the state annually, and contribute $33 billion in income, $140 billion in revenue and $3.8 billion in state and local taxes to Georgia’s economy. For more information, visit gaports.com, or contact GPA Chief Communications Officer Loretta Lepore at (912) 964-3855 or [email protected].