OAKLAND (CBS SF) — International cargo traffic at the Port of Oakland surged to record levels in March as the economy begins to rebound from its COVID-19 slumber.

Port of Oakland Maritime Director Bryan Brandes said he does not see the surge in traffic ending any time soon.

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“Ships are full, ocean freight rates are sky high and the need for empty containers to ship more cargo is never-ending,” Brandes said in a news release. “We just don’t see conditions easing in the next several months.”

Port officials said Oakland received the equivalent of 97,538 20-foot import containers in March. Official said the port — a shipping gateway of produce from the Central Valley — shipped out the equivalent of 94,169 20-foot export boxes. Both totals were single-month records in 94-year-old port’s history.

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March imports were up 45 percent from the same month a year ago when the port felt the initial impacts of the pandemic. Exports gained 12 percent year-over-year with most of the trade with Asia.

Oakland’s cargo boom mirrors a nearly year-long volume increase at many ports worldwide. Port officials said the total volume was up nearly 9 percent through the first three months of 2021.

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Officials attributed the gains to three factors:

  • Pandemic-weary consumers purchasing overseas goods to counter lockdown fatigue, a phenomenon known as ‘retail therapy
  • Retailers and manufacturers replenishing depleted inventories
  • American exporters meeting unrelenting demand for high-quality U.S. products, especially farm goods.