Port of Los Angeles records surge in cargo volumes in June

The volume of cargo containers moved by dockworkers and terminal operators at the San Pedro Bay ports complex continues to surpass last year’s records by double digits.

In June, the Port of Los Angeles processed 82 container vessels carrying 876,430 twenty-foot equivalent units, or TEUs, of cargo. That marks the busiest June in the port’s 114-year history and a 26.8% increase compared to June 2020.

“The past 12 months have been like the peak season on auto-repeat,” Port of L.A. Executive Director Gene Seroka said during a virtual event.

“Berth productivity remains 50% higher than it was last June, and that’s been consistent throughout the surge. We are working on average 15 vessels every day, (compared to a pre-pandemic volume of) 10 vessels that came to the harbor each day,” he added.

Imports totaled 467,763 TEUs last month, an increase of 26.7% compared to June 2020.

“It continues to be clear that the U.S. consumer spending remains
strong, and even with the return of the service sector spend — like travel, restaurants  and ball games — retail sales and ecommerce remain robust,” Seroka said. “Conversely exports were really weak — less than 100,000 TEUs for the month, and unfortunately that’s the lowest export number we’ve seen in Los Angeles since 2005.” Empty containers surged 47% compared to June 2020, reaching 312,600 TEUs.

“The trade continues to be a one-way street — we are handling a lot of imports, not enough exports, and there are way too many empties going back,” he said. The cargo outlook at the Port of L.A. remains solid for the remainder of the year, with back-to-school, fall fashion, Halloween and other seasonal items making their way in. The port also expects some merchants will begin bringing their holiday merchandise earlier than usual. Seroka estimated that the port will finish 2021 with container volume in the range of 10.5 million TEUs.

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