Cushman & Wakefield: Port of NY/NJ total 2023 volume surpasses prepandemic figures

The Port of New York and New Jersey maintained its position as the busiest port on the East Coast, with total volume surpassing prepandemic figures, according to the most recent industrial review report released by Cushman & Wakefield.

“This report highlights the Port of New York and New Jersey’s resilience and strong recovery from the pandemic. Despite facing challenges, the port has achieved more than prepandemic container volume levels and continues to be the busiest port on the East Coast. The recent investment in enhancing port capacity further exemplifies the port’s dedication to continuous improvement and expansion, as it maintains its rank as one of the busiest ports in the nation,” John Obeid, senior research manager, said.

Ranked as the nation’s second-busiest seaport for loaded containers handled in 2023, the PNYNJ maintains a high volume of container traffic. This sustained activity aligns with the PNYNJ’s strategic initiative to enhance port capacity, demonstrated by the recent $220 million project announcement that aims to redesign and rebuild the northern entrance of Port Newark, emphasizing the port’s commitment to continuous improvement and expansion.

Despite a year-over-year decrease of 17.7%, the full-year container volume totaled 7.8 million 20-foot equivalent units, notably surpassing prepandemic levels. Compared to 2019, total cargo transport at the PNYNJ increased 4.4%, indicating a steady flow of trade activity.

The latest data from C&W also found that the vacancy rate in the Port Region grew 240 basis points YOY, reaching 5.3%, primarily due to the delivery of new product to the market. Among these, the largest newly developed property delivered vacant this year was the 332,640-square-foot development at 101 Port Lincoln Blvd. in Bayonne, followed by a new 178,200-square-foot warehouse at 2013 McCarter Highway in Newark. After posting 2 million square feet of positive net absorption in 2022, the Port Region witnessed a reversal in 2023, transitioning into negative territory with 430,889 square feet of occupancy losses.

Leasing activity surged in the fourth quarter, surpassing the 1 msf mark for the first time since the first quarter of 2021. The fourth-quarter demand of 1.1 msf helped push the year-to-date figure to 2.3 msf, a 45.5% increase from the same time last year. Renewal activity followed suit, swelling to over 1.2 msf — the highest quarterly total over the last decade — and was driven by 619,953 square feet of renewals in the fourth quarter. The average asking rent rose by 3.3% YOY to $19.91 per square foot. Both asking and taking rents have improved over the last year, particularly within centrally located new developments and higher-quality space.

Boasting six container terminals and multiple cargo rail lines, the PNYNJ services one of the world’s most affluent and densely populated consumer bases. The port boasts the largest 250-mile radius population of any port in North America, with over 60 million people making up one-third of the country’s GDP. Given the substantial surrounding population, the PNYNJ significantly drives demand for many industrial markets across the Northeast and mid-Atlantic U.S.