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Although March is traditionally one of the slowest months on the shipping calendar, the Port of Long Beach (POLB), California, last month logged its busiest month and its second-best quarter on record.
Dockworkers and terminal operators moved 840,387 20-foot-equivalent units (TEUs) of cargo last month, a 62.3% increase from March 2020, marking the largest year-over-year increase for a single month at the port, according to a POLB press release. The previous monthly record of 815,885 TEUs was set in December 2020.
POLB officials attributed the trend to consumers spending less on travel and more online while waiting out the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The demand for e-commerce is happening more quickly than we anticipated, but we will continue to collaborate with our industry stakeholders to catch up with the unprecedented cargo volume at our gateway," said POLB Executive Director Mario Cordero.
Imports in March rose 74% to 408,172 TEUs, while exports declined 3.9% to 139,710 TEUs compared with a year ago, when the economic impact of the pandemic led to canceled sailings and fewer cargo shipments processed through Long Beach.
In first-quarter 2021, the port moved 2,376,128 TEUs, a 41.2% increase compared with the same period in 2020.
Pacific Harbor Line Inc. provides rail transportation, maintenance and dispatching services to the port.