The Port of Long Beach reported its best August in its 109-year history this week, despite ongoing economic uncertainty and the lasting impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Despite the recent surge in cargo, uncertainty remains in international trade and the national economy, given the ongoing Covid-19 impacts,” Mario Cordero, executive director of the Port of Long Beach, said in a written statement. “August marked another great month for the port, but we must remain vigilant about the global pandemic’s lasting effects.”
Dockworkers and terminal operators moved 725,610 twenty-foot equivalent units of container cargo last month. That was a 9.3% increase compared to August 2019. (TEUs are a universal standard for cargo measurement, though most containers today are 40 feet.)
Imports jumped 13%, to 364,792 TEUs, a good sign since August is typically the biggest month for shipping ahead of the holiday season. Exports, meanwhile, were up by 1%, to 126,177 TEUs. Empty containers shipped overseas climbed 8.5%, to 234,642 TEUs.
The Port of Los Angeles, which is set to release its August numbers next week, also anticipates record cargo numbers for last month, POLA Executive Director Gene Seroka said recently.
The timing of the numbers is important because this is the start of the peak shipping season, which typically runs August to October, as retailers prepare for the upcoming holiday shopping rush.
Home improvement items and home exercise equipment were among the items that contributed to the rise in shipments to Long Beach — the country’s second-largest port, behind LA — as the pandemic continues keeping many people out of work and largely confined to their homes.
There also was a short-term increase in extra vessel visits, making up for canceled voyages earlier this year.
The Port of Long Beach has moved some 4.9 million TEUs during the first eight months of 2020, down 1.2% from the same period in 2019.