Vessels wait for unloading at Port of LA
As companies restock depleted inventories and retailers plan for an early holiday season, incoming cargo to the Port of Los Angeles is surging, the executive director for the nation's busiest seaport announced.
In September, employees unloaded 471,795 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) of imports, 17% more than the year before, marking the second month of major import gains at the No. 1 gateway for U.S. trade with China.
Gene Seroka, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles, where there are now 16 vessels docked and 10 at anchor with cargo waiting to be unloaded, said that trend has continued into October.
Among the U.S. retailers introducing holiday promotions before Halloween are Amazon.com, Walmart, Target, and Best Buy to lock in purchases and ease residential distribution crunches as fears grow about rapidly growing COVID-19 infections and potential instability around the presidential election next month.
The pattern is a reversal from earlier this year, when ocean shipping traffic was slowed to a trickle by pandemic related shutdowns-first in China and then in the United States.
But the jump in cargo, some of it unexpected, is starting to cause backups that could ripple through supply chains in the United States.
Port workers are racing to process incoming containers, and in August and September, the arrival of 18 unscheduled ships made labor scheduling more complex.
Security measures such as reduced staffing and physical distance from COVID-19 mean that it takes longer to bring containers out of the port.
Maritime Business World