The Port of Oakland reported that it had achieved its best September ever for import cargo volume. The 93,916 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) handily beat a monthly record set in 2019 of 84,901 TEUs.
Containerized import volume in September also jumped 10.6% from the same month in 2019.
The return of demand for imports following the height of the coronavirus has spurred record volumes at a number of U.S. ports, including the Port of Los Angeles, which also had its best September ever.
But unlike LA, the Port of Oakland also touted a 5% year-over-year increase in exports in September. And through the first nine months of the year, full exports are down only 0.2% compared to 2019.
At the Port of LA, exports in September were about flat year-over-year, according to Executive Director Gene Seroka, who said, “We’ve seen exports drop 22 of the past 23 months.”
Both ports attributed the rush of imports to retailers replenishing inventories and preparing for the holiday shopping season. The Port of Oakland said full imports for the first nine months are up 0.4% from 2019 levels, despite the monthslong pandemic-caused economic shutdown.
“Several months into this pandemic, we are now seeing positive signs by these cargo volume totals,” said Port of Oakland Maritime Director Bryan Brandes in a statement. “As retailers make sure shelves are well-stocked, we’re waiting to see if consumers begin shopping early this holiday season.”
Brandes said the port is seeing retailers hedging against another possible COVID-19 wave this winter and it appears inventories are being built up in case of more factory closures and lockdowns.