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.READ MORE: Video: Howling Atmospheric River Winds Making Golden Gate Bridge Sing
“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.READ MORE: UPDATE: Atmospheric River Crashes Onshore; Flood Warning Issued For Napa, Sonoma Counties
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.MORE NEWS: Atmospheric River Whipped Winds Roar Through Bay Area; Toppling Dozens Of Drought-Weakened Trees
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.