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Port of Long Beach volumes level off in June

  • The port moved 724,300 TEUs in June, up 20.3% from the same month last year
  • Imports rose 18.8% to 357,100 TEUs, while exports saw a relatively flat decrease of 0.5% to 116,950 TEUs.
  • 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
  • Fewer cargo ships called at the port in June compared to a month earlier due to shifting services and a COVID-19 outbreak at the Yantian port in China

Cargo moving through the Port of Long Beach, the second busiest container port in the United States, remained strong in June, but traffic is expected to gradually level off as retail spending cools down and consumers warm up to summertime recreation and entertainment.

The port moved 724,300 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in June, up 20.3% from the same month last year. Imports rose 18.8% to 357,100 TEUs, while exports saw a relatively flat decrease of 0.5% to 116,950 TEUs. Empty containers moved through the port jumped 36% to 250,250 TEUs.

“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 in a release.

“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,” he added.

“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.

During the first half of the year, 4.754 million TEUs were processed, a 38.5% increase compared to the same period last year. The improvement was largely driven by increased demand for household products, electronics and other goods as consumers returned to work following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Of the total cargo handled from January to June, imports added up to 2.315 million TEUs, a 39.5% change from the first six months of 2020. Exports totaled 751,740 TEUs for a 2.4% growth.

Second quarter throughput was 2.380 million TEUs, up 35.8% from last year, marking the second best quarter in the port’s 110-year history.

Fewer cargo ships called at the Port of Long Beach in June compared to a month earlier due to shifting services and a COVID-19 outbreak at the Yantian port in China that resulted in some vessels delaying arrivals until July.

Rising prices drove down consumer spending for products in May, but overall national retail sales remained 18% higher than pre-pandemic levels. As states lifted most COVID-19 restrictions in June, consumers have pivoted to spending at restaurants, bars, travel and other services.

Photo by Don Ramey Logan

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