The Port of Oakland today reported that last month was its busiest for container handling in 10 years—data points that auger well for July data released by other big West Coast ports, and may be an encouraging harbinger for a more robust peak-shipping season than has been seen in recent years.
Oakland handled 223,619 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) containers last month, the most since August 2006, when it handled just less than 228,000 TEUs. Total container volume rose 8.8 percent from July 2015. Export volumes rose 3.6 percent, the sixth increase in the last seven months. Imports rose about 1 percent year over year, Oakland said.
Oakland generates about half its volume from exports, and last month exports accounted for a bit less than half of all full-container loadings in July. Volumes of "empty" boxes rose as shipping lines repositioned their containers to prepare for an anticipated uptick in peak-season cargo. Last month, Oakland handled 80,508 import containers, 77,573 full export containers, and 65,538 empties.
"The numbers are encouraging, and with holiday shipments set to commence, this could be the start of something good," said Maritime Director John Driscoll in a statement. July is historically a solid month for business, though not on a par with the August-to-October period that covers the peak-season cycle for Asian ocean freight imports bound for store shelves across the U.S.
Oakland said that total volumes are up 6.4 percent through the first seven months of 2016. Exports are up 9.1 percent during that span, while imports have risen 8.6 percent.