Cargo volumes through the Port of Long Beach remained strong in June, but showed signs of leveling off as retail spending cooled and consumers perked up for summer recreation and entertainment as COVID-19 restrictions were lifted. Stevedores and terminal operators moved 724,297 twenty-foot equivalent units in June, up 20.3% from the same month last year. Imports increased 18.8% to 357,101 TEUs, while exports experienced a relatively flat 0.5% decline to 116,947 TEUs. Empty containers moved through the port increased 36% to 250,249 TEUs.
“We anticipate that e-commerce will drive much of our cargo movement during the remainder of 2021 as retailers plan for a busy summer season,” said Mario Cordero, Executive Director of the Port of Long Beach. “However, the month of 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 available.”
During the first half of 2021, demand for household goods, electronics and other goods increased as consumers returned to work following the COVID-19 pandemic and contributed to a 38.5% increase in cargo shipments at the Port of Long Beach compared to the first half of 2020, with 4,753,828 TEUs processed. Second quarter throughput was 2,377,700 TEUs, up 35.8% from last year, marking the second best quarter in the Port’s 110-year history.
“We are optimistic that this year is shaping up to be one of the busiest in history as we continue to overcome the challenges associated with COVID-19,” said Long Beach Port Commission Chairman Frank Colonna. “We will continue to collaborate with our dock workers and industry partners to move cargo quickly and efficiently through the supply chain during this time of ongoing economic recovery.”
Fewer cargo vessels called at the Port of Long Beach in June compared to the previous month, due to the change in services and an outbreak of COVID-19 at the Port of Yantian in China, which caused some vessels to delay their arrivals until July.
Meanwhile, rising prices reduced consumer spending on goods in May, but overall national retail sales remained 18% above pre-pandemic levels, the Port of Long Beach said. As states lifted most COVID-19 restrictions in June, consumers have shifted to spending on restaurants, bars, travel and other services.