Containerized imports in Los Angeles increased 3.38 percent in September year-over-year, reaching the highest total of 2012. Imports in neighboring Long Beach edged up 0.7 percent over last September.
Exports declined at both ports, dropping 2.56 percent in Los Angeles and 2.8 percent in Long Beach. Exports should turn around beginning in November and remain positive into next spring as the peak season for exports runs from late fall to early spring.
September and October are usually the busiest months of the year in the eastbound trans-Pacific as retailers stock their shelves for the holiday shopping season. Industry analysts have indicated that this should be a traditional peak season with October being the busiest month of the year for West Coast ports.
East Coast ports were busier than usual this summer as retailers shipped some of their holiday merchandise early in anticipation of the expiration of the International Longshoremen’s Association contract on Sept. 30.
Uncertainty during the contract negotiations and talk of an ILA strike or employer lockout caused a diversion of some cargo to West Coast ports in September and October. However, a federal mediator became involved in the negotiations and the parties agreed to extend the contract until Dec. 29.
September was the busiest month since August 2010 in Los Angeles, which is reaping the benefits of a move by Hyundai Merchant Marine and its terminal operator California United Terminals from Long Beach to Los Angeles more than a year ago.
Total container volume, including empties, increased 5.57 in Los Angeles over September 2011. Total container volume in Long Beach was down 2.9 percent compared to last September.