Holiday season shipments off to strong start

Boosted by a robust initial wave of holiday season shipments, terminal operators at the Port of Long Beach reported record-breaking imports that drove total container cargo volume up nearly 10% in August.

August is traditionally the beginning of the peak shipping season that extends through October, when importers fill their shelves with extra clothing, toys and other products for end-of-the-year gift-giving.

‘Anticipating a solid year, the entire goods movement industry has hired additional workers to handle the growing demand for trade,’ said Chris Lytle, the Port’s Managing Director of Trade Relations and Port Operations. ‘At the Port, shipments are moving very smoothly.’

In August, the total number of cargo containers climbed 9.7% to the equivalent of 675,058 twenty-foot container units, compared with the same month a year ago.

Imports, including the holiday merchandise, jumped 13.6% to 347,829 twenty-foot equivalent units. For a second consecutive month, exports (mostly raw materials including recycled paper) slowed, declining five percent to 105,256 teus. The number of empty containers, nearly all headed overseas to be re-filled with products, climbed 11.8% to 221,973 teus.

The Marine Exchange of Southern California, which monitors vessel traffic, reports no delays although it sees a steady increase in the number of ships calling at the San Pedro Bay ports. ‘Ships are arriving in larger numbers and in larger sizes, and with few exceptions they are going to their assigned berths with no delays,’ said Capt. Manny Aschemeyer, Executive Director of the Marine Exchange. ‘We have had no reports of any congestion problems at the marine terminals ’ either with truck traffic or with rail movements. Moreover, the (longshore) labor orders have all been met for each shift, with no gang shortages reported.’