Contact Us

Record Number Of Ships Wait To Get Into Nation’s Busiest Ports

The Port of Los Angeles

There were a record 60 ships in the San Pedro Bay on Wednesday, either at anchor or waiting to dock at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka announced in a digital press conference that same day.

The previous daily record of 56 ships was set within the past week or so, port officials told Bisnow. Reuters was the first to report the new record. 

The pandemic-induced buying surge that began last year as people spent a larger chunk of time in their homes has kept up, and that has translated into busy ports. Year-to-date volume is up 30% at the Port of Los Angeles. As of July, the neighboring Port of Long Beach had broken monthly cargo records in 12 of the previous 13 months. 

Though August saw a 5.9% drop in total import volume at the Port of Los Angeles, totals from now through the rest of this year are being compared against record numbers from the second half of last year, Seroka said. Last August, retailers were still frantically restocking shelves after the initial frenzied wave of pandemic buying, he said. 

“Two million SF of warehousing from the shores of the Pacific out to the desert region are overflowing,” Seroka said. 

Warehouse and industrial space in the South Bay, the market nearest the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, has a vacancy rate of less than 1%. Full-to-the-rafters warehouses are just one of the complications facing the flow of goods from producers to consumers. Container shortages and the persistence of the coronavirus, along with product shortages, are also posing challenges.

Transportation costs have risen, and retailers are bracing for a holiday season full of delays. Speaking at the digital press conference held by the Port of Los Angeles, Ed Desmond, the Toy Association's executive vice president of external affairs, advised shoppers to buy their Christmas toys now.

"We need more workers," Seroka said, adding that expanded hours to match up with the hours that are being worked at other points in the supply chain are probably necessary as well.