Posted April 16, 2020
JaxPort saw an 8 percent drop in cargo containers and a 21 percent plunge in automobile shipments in March compared to the prior year because of the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus.
Jacksonville’s port saw an 8 percent drop in cargo containers and a 21 percent plunge in automobile shipments in March compared to a year ago because of the body blow dealt by the coronavirus to the global economy.
“I would say that over the past 20 years, the only event that we can really compare this to would be the Great Recession 10 years ago,” said Robert Peek, general manager of sales and marketing for the port authority.
JaxPort had expected to see a drop-off in March for cargo containers because the Chinese government shuttered manufacturing plants while battling to contain the spread of COVID-19 earlier this year.
Peek said those factories in Asia “are largely up and running” again so that no longer is a problem in the global trade network, but demand for products has fallen because of all the government-ordered restrictions in the United States.
“We think April and May will be like March,” Peek said. “We will have declines in our volumes.”
He said beyond the next two months, the big question is “what will the new normal look like with consumer confidence and spending?”
?“It becomes a lot murkier when you go more than a couple of months out,” he said.
Before the coronavirus slammed the economy, JaxPort had been expecting continued year-over-year growth in cargo containers, which are the big metal boxes stuffed with consumer items.
The actual volume of containers in March was 14 percent below what JaxPort penciled in for its budget.
“The port remains open and all of our terminals are operating,” Peek said. “What’s changed is the amount of cargo on the vessels.”