The Port of Los Angeles did not reach the monthly cargo record in April, the first time this year, but it is still ahead of the 2021 banner.
The port of Los Angeles, the busiest in the country, moved a record 3.5 million units in the first four months of 2022, which is 1% more than last year’s record rate. The cargo count in 2021 was even more impressive as it made Los Angeles the first port in the Western Hemisphere to move more than 10 million twenty-foot units in a calendar year. (TEUs are a universal measurement of cargo,)
“We have had an extremely strong start to the year and cargo continues to arrive in Los Angeles despite some COVID blockades in China,” said Los Angeles Port Executive Director Gene Seroka. “Although there are consequences from assembly to production through delivery, trans-Pacific trade remains stable.”
Despite the overall growth, less cargo was transported to the port last month than in April 2021. But last month was the second busiest April in the port’s 115-year history.
A total of 887,357 units of 20-foot equivalent were processed last month, compared to 946,966 units relocated in April 2021.
Imports carried over during April 2022 reached 456,670 units, down 6.8% from the same month last year.
Exports last month also fell 12.7% to 99,878 units, the 38th month of a decline in the last 42 months. The port also moved 330,810 empty containers, which is 3.4% less than the same month last year.
The port had broken cargo records in each of the first three months year before staying in April.
The POLA announcement came a week after its neighbor, the port of Long Beach, reported its best April in history.
The port, the second busiest in the country, broke four consecutive monthly records starting the year.
Last month, the port moved 820,718 TEU, up 10% from a previous April record set in 2021.
As in Los Angeles, imports and empty containers have largely led to further growth as the trade imbalance continues.
In the port of Long Beach, imports rose 9.2% in April compared to the same month last year, while empty containers that have to return to Asia to be reloaded rose 16.9%.
Exports, the port said last week, fell 1.8%.
The surge continues despite a coronavirus outbreak in China, plant closures and inflation damaging retail spending.
“Looking ahead, although we don’t expect any drastic changes,” Seroka said, “the situation in China could lead to a lull with a fairly quick return after the blockade is over.”
Long Beach Port CEO Mario Carder in a statement last week also noted that the blockades in China would eventually be lifted. And even though retail spending has leveled off, American households are now spending most of the pandemic restrictions on spending more on entertainment, restaurants and other personal services – operations that also require imports from other countries.
The twin ports, which will arrive in mid-summer, will also be dealing with their traditional busy season as retailers prepare for the winter holidays.
“We are preparing for a likely summer surge,” Seroka said last week, “when China recovers after a long shutdown due to COVID-19.”
SCNG staffer Chris Hare contributed to this report.