October cargo volumes through the Port of Los Angeles were down compared to a year earlier, despite a long line of vessels waiting to unload.
The Port of Los Angeles reported October volumes of 902,644 TEUs, an 8% decrease compared to last year, when it handled record monthly volumes.
Still, total year-to-date cargo volumes through the Port of Los Angeles, the leading U.S. container port, are up 22% over 2020.
“Amid the series of challenges facing the supply chain, we continue to deliver more cargo than ever before,” Port of Los Angeles CEO Gene Seroka said in announcing the monthly statistics. “The National Retail Federation is forecasting a record holiday season, as many outlets such as Walmart, Target and Home Depot report strong sales.”
Seroka said clearing the docks of imports and empties remains a top priority, as more than half of the ships arriving at the port are of foreign origin. “As a result, we have seen a marked improvement in the fluidity at our marine terminals, allowing more vessels to be processed,” he said.
The port’s announcement highlighted a 31% decline – from 94,981 to 65,080 – in the number of import containers at the Port of Los Angeles marine terminals since Oct. 24, a day before the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach announced fines for import containers with a nine-day or longer dwell time. Import containers longer than 9 days have declined 35%, from 37,410 to 24,361, according to the port.
Loaded imports in October totaled 467,287 TEUs, down 8% from a year earlier. Loaded exports were also down 32% to 98,251 TEUs compared to the previous year.
Empty containers shipped overseas increased to 337,106 TEUs, up 2% year-on-year. Officials have said ocean carriers are bringing in additional “sweeper” vessels to load empty containers, freeing up dock space.
Ten months into 2021, the port has processed 9,079,562 TEUs, up 22% from the 7,444,464 TEUs handled this time last year.
Port of Los Angeles import container occupancy report for November 17, 2021.
Aside from the monthly announcement, the Port of Los Angeles’ daily cargo operations report Thursday showed 68,397 import containers on the dock, including 25,122 containers sitting 9 days or more. Meanwhile, the number of empty containers on the dock at off-dock terminals and depots has increased to 71,800.
The October figures come as San Pedro Bay ports, including Los Angeles and Long Beach, saw record vessel congestion at anchorages and waiting areas, with nearly 80 containerships waiting to unload between the two ports for most of the month. Marine Exchange of Southern California officials reported this week that the number of vessels at anchor and waiting reached a record 86 containerships on Tuesday.
October marked the all-time record for containers handled by the Port of Los Angeles, with 980,728 TEUs. That record was broken in May of this year, when 1,012,047 TEUs were handled, the first time a U.S. port has handled more than one million TEUs in a single month. Los Angeles also handled 903,865 TEUs in September, the busiest month on record.