Los Angeles Business Journal

L.A. Port Sees Strong April Activity

By James Rufus Koren Tuesday, May 15, 2012

April saw a boom in cargo traffic at the Port of Los Angeles, with nearly 15 percent more goods passing through than the same month a year ago.

Both imports and exports grew by double digits to give the port its biggest April ever. More than 707,000 containers moved through the port, up from 617,000 last year.

Port officials consider anything more than 700,000 containers a good month, and port spokesman Phillip Sanfield said the numbers bode well for the rest of the year. Last month was just the eighth time in the last three and a half years that the port hit 700,000 containers, and it was the first time that the port hit that number in April. Those kind of numbers usually don’t come until the peak late-summer shipping season.

“It’s a really strong showing,” Sanfield said. “It seems like there’s more consumer spending and retailers are stocking up to try to connect with that.”

Imports were up 17 percent to 364,555 containers and exports were up 12 percent to 186,838. But just as important, Sanfield said, is that the number of empty containers leaving the port was up 13 percent, a sign that shipping companies anticipate a flood of cargo over the summer.

“Our business development staff sees this as a really good sign,” Sanfield said. “A big spike in empties indicates the shippers are repositioning the containers for a return-to-school season. It could be this is an indication that the retailers are looking at a better year.”