March is typically a slow month for cargo traffic; this year marked a record for the Port of Long Beach
Chinese vessels from COSCO Shipping and Orient Overseas Carrier Line are pictured at the port’s Long Beach Container Terminal. Photo by Brandon Richardson.
Terminal operators at the Port of Long Beach moved 840,387 twenty-foot equivalent units during March, making it the busiest month on record in its 110-year history, staff announced Thursday. Typically one of the slowest months of the year, March’s record figure marks a 62.3% increase over the same month in 2020, the largest year-over-year jump ever for a single month.
The previous record of 815,885 TEUs handled in one month was set in December. This is only the third time in the port’s history it handled over 800,000 TEUs in one month. “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,” Executive Director Mario Cordero said in the announcement.
Imports increased 74% to 408,172 TEUs, while exports declined just under 4% to 139,710 TEUs compared to March 2020 when the emergence of COVID-19 halted some shipping operations. Empty containers moving through the port skyrocketed 112.5% to 292,505 TEUs. March is the ninth consecutive month the port has broken its own cargo movement records.
The port moved 2,376,128 TEUs during the first three months of the year–a 41.2% increase from the same period last year–making it the port’s best first quarter on record and the second best quarter ever after the fourth quarter of last year.
The previous record was 481,251 TEUs set in 2018.
“The demand for e-commerce is happening more quickly than we anticipated,” Cordero said, “but we will continue to collaborate with our industry stakeholders to catch up with the unprecedented cargo volume at our gateway.”
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