Port of Long Beach cargo volume levels off amid U.S. reopening

The Port of Long Beach announced today that cargo volume is beginning to level off as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted in the U.S., but June’s volume was still up 20.3% from the same month the previous year.

The port moved 724,297 20-foot equivalent units last month, down from 907,216 TEUs in May, which was the port’s best month in history. Port officials attributed the decrease to consumers pivoting to spending at restaurants, bars and travel instead of online shopping as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

June’s imports rose 18.8% to 357,101 TEUs, and exports remained steady with a slight decrease of 0.5% to 116,947 TEUs, the port said. More than 250,000 empty containers moved through the port, an increase of 36%.

“We anticipate e-commerce to drive much of our cargo movement through the rest of 2021 as retailers plan for a busy summer season,” said Mario Cordero, executive director of the Port of Long Beach. “However, June serves as an indicator that consumer demand for goods will gradually level off as the national economy continues to open up and services become more widely available.”

The port saw a 38.5% increase in cargo shipments during the first half of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020 due to surging demand for household products, electronics and other goods as consumers returned to work.

“We’re optimistic that this is shaping up to be one of our busiest years on record as we continue to overcome the challenges related to COVID-19,” said Long Beach Harbor Commission President Frank Colonna. “We will continue to collaborate with our waterfront workers and industry partners to move cargo quickly and efficiently through the supply chain during this time of ongoing economic recovery.”

Between January and June, 2,753,828 TEUs were moved through the port, which is a 38.5% increase from the same period of 2020.

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