The Port of Long Beach has achieved its busiest month on record with year-on-year (YoY) growth of 62.3% in March as consumer e-commerce trends continue to drive growth and traffic.
In a statement, the Port said while March is traditionally one of the slowest months in the shipping calendar, dockworkers and terminal operators moved 840,387 TEU units, far surpassing the previous best month on record set in December 2020.
The figures marked only the third time the Port has handled more than 800,000 TEU in a single month. Imports rise by 74% YoY, while exports declined by 3.9% and traffic of empty containers increased by 112.5% YoY.
Ports on the US West Coast have suffered severe congestion after China reopened factories and resumed exports amid an easing of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The subsequent pressure on the US supply chain has led to accusations from some stakeholders that the major carriers have breached federal law on handling US exports. The Federal Maritime Commission is investigating after 111 members of the US congress called for action.
Mario Cordero, Executive Director of the Port of Long Beach, said “Although the pandemic is receding, consumers are spending less on travel this year and turning toward online retail in unprecedented numbers to purchase exercise equipment, office furniture and home improvement items.
“The demand for e-commerce is happening more quickly than we anticipated, but we will continue to collaborate with our industry stakeholders to catch up with the unprecedented cargo volume at our gateway.”
Long Beach Harbor Commission President Frank Colonna also commented, ““We’re pleased that many of our essential workers on the waterfront have been able to receive their COVID-19 vaccines to keep them healthy and to maintain the flow of cargo.
“Even as we set records, the economy is still in recovery mode, so it is vital to keep our supply chain workforce strong.”
March’s numbers mark the ninth consecutive month that the Port of Long Beach has broken cargo movement records for a particular month amid a historic cargo surge that started in July 2020.
The Port has moved 2,376,128 TEUs during the first quarter of 2021, a 41.2% increase from the same period in 2020.
It was also the Port’s best first quarter on record, breaking the previous record set during the first three months of 2018 by 481,251 TEUs, and its second-best quarter overall, behind the fourth quarter of 2020.