Container volume continued to rise at ports across the nation in December, driven by imports and accelerated e-commerce activity, officials said this week.
On the Gulf Coast, officials at Port Houston said container volume rose 4% during the month, with the port handling 264,626 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs). This marked the second-highest month ever for loaded imports, which were up 26% over December 2019, officials said. The December volume pushed the total level of TEUs for the year close to 2019’s record levels, port officials said. The results are notable in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, which slowed cargo volumes worldwide in March and through the summer, before improving at the end of 2020, according to Port Houston’s Executive Director Roger Guenther.
Despite the gains, overall cargo in Houston was down 4% compared to 2019, officials said.
On the West Coast, officials at the Port of Oakland said yearly container volume was flat compared to 2019, driven by gains at the end of the year. The port handled 208,341 TEUs in December, a 7.4% increase compared to a year earlier. Imports rose 11% during the month, on the heels of a decrease in imports in November.
“We anticipated that some of November’s cargo would spill into December,” Port of Oakland Maritime Director Bryan Brandes said in a statement Wednesday. “The Port’s growing import volume in 2020 is a trend that began in June and it remains to be seen how long this trend will continue.”
Oakland officials attribute the ongoing import demand to the pandemic-driven e-commerce boom.