March was the Port of Long Beach’s busiest month in its 110-year history and only the third month that the port handled more than 800,000 20-foot equivalent units in a single month, officials announced Thursday.

March is traditionally a slow month for the port, officials said, but this past March, the dockworkers and terminal operators moved a total of 840,387 20-foot equivalent units. The previous busiest month was December 2020, when 815,885 units were moved.

“Although the pandemic is receding, consumers are spending less on travel this year and turning toward online retail in unprecedented numbers to purchase exercise equipment, office furniture and home improvement items,” said Mario Cordero, Executive Director of the Port of Long Beach. “The demand for e-commerce is happening more quickly than we anticipated, but we will continue to collaborate with our industry stakeholders to catch up with the unprecedented cargo volume at our gateway.”

March also marked the ninth consecutive month that the Port of Long Beach broke cargo movement records for a particular month. The “historic cargo surge” began in July 2020 and has continued through March 2021, officials said. So far in 2021, the port has moved 2,376,128 20-foot equivalent units, a 41% increase from the same period in 2020.

Compared to the previous March, when the pandemic led to canceled sailings and fewer shipments, imports last month rose 74% to 408,172 units, and exports declined 3.9% to 139,710 units, officials said. Empty containers that moved through the port increased by 112.5% to 292,505 units.

“We’re pleased that many of our essential workers on the waterfront have been able to receive their COVID-19 vaccines to keep them healthy and to maintain the flow of cargo,” said Long Beach Harbor Commission President Frank Colonna. “Even as we set records, the economy is still in recovery mode, so it is vital to keep our supply chain workforce strong.”

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