Import cargo volume increased again at the Port of Oakland last month as U.S. retailers restocked dwindling inventories. The Port said today that containerized import shipments jumped 6.4 percent in July compared to 2019 totals. The step up followed a 1.9 percent increase in June.

The news was tempered by a 6.4 percent decline in July export volume compared to July 2019. Oakland export volume has now dropped in three consecutive months.

The Port attributed import gains to shippers resupplying warehouses after retrenching during early stages of the global coronavirus pandemic. Rising cargo volume was welcome in Oakland after four straight months of declines between February and June. But the Port cautioned against reading too much into the results.

“It’s good to see an uptick in cargo activity,” said Port of Oakland Maritime Director Bryan Brandes. “But we’re not doing any victory celebrations because the trade outlook remains unclear as long as the pandemic is with us.”

The Port said dwindling exports could be the result of China’s efforts to bar waste product shipments. Scrap paper is one of the leading U.S. exports from West Coast ports including Oakland.

The Port said its year-to-date total cargo volume is down 5.8 percent from 2019. That’s due primarily to a nearly 10 percent drop in shipments of empty cargo containers back to origin destinations.