Container volumes jumped by 113% at the Port of Los Angeles in March, with severe congestion at present marking a sharp contrast to the slowdown of trade at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The exceptional circumstances saw the port record the busiest first quarter in its history, with a 44% leap compared to 2020, while 957,599 teu were handled in March.
The severity of the congestion at the San Pedro Bay complex is dropping gradually, with the number of ships at anchor awaiting berths down into the low 20s from more than 30 earlier in the year.
Port of Los Angeles executive director Gene Seroka said: “As more Americans get vaccinated, businesses reopen and the economy strengthens, consumers continue to purchase goods at a dizzying pace.”
March 2021 loaded imports reached 490,115 teu, an increase of 123% compared to the previous year.
Loaded exports edged up 2% to 122,899 teu. Empty containers, heavily in demand in Asia, surged 219% compared to March 2020 reaching 344,585 teu.
Neighbouring hub the Port of Long Beach 840,387 teu in March, marking a 62% increase, despite a slight fall in exports. Imports rose 74% while empty containers were up 113%.
Mario Cordero, Executive Director of the Port of Long Beach, stated: “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.”
The Port of Long Beach moved 2,376,128 teu during the first quarter of 2021, a 41% increase from the same period in 2020.