US containerised imports slumped in November at 1.2 million TEU, down 15.2 per cent compared to same month 2011, a fall blamed on Hurricane Sandy in the east coast and longshore strikes on the west coast.
According to the trade intelligence company Zepol, November's data reflected a significant drop in month average volumes of 1.4 million TEU in the last two years with a drop of 12.8 per cent from October to November in inbound volume, the lowest since February 2012.
"So far in 2012, the peak in imports has shifted to earlier in the summer and there hasn't been a rise in imports month-over-month since July," said the report, China down 18.2 per cent and South Korea falling 21.1 per cent.
Europe increased its maritime unitised exports to the US overall by 4.5 per cent with Germany up 4.8 per cent and Italy at a healthy 13 per cent during November, Belgium and Spain showed like-for-like increases also. The UK slumped by nearly six per cent month on month, according to bills of lading data declared to US Customs.
From October to November, the top 20 ocean carriers suffered declines with APL recording a deep slide of 14 per cent, MSC at 10.3 per cent and Danish giant Maersk Line down 6.6 per cent.
Los Angeles and Long Beach ports suffered declines due to labour strikes at both Pacific ports and a general downturn with the east coast port of New York recording the sole uplift of 1.9 per cent during October, according to the Shipping Gazette.