Photo by John Schreiber.

Despite just a modest rise in consumer spending nationally, the Port of Long Beach reported its busiest July on record Tuesday, with an increase in the movement of empty containers offsetting drops in imports and exports.

The port moved 785,843 twenty-foot equivalent units last month, topping the previous July mark, set last year, by .13%, data released Tuesday by the port showed.

While imports declined 1.8% to 376,175 TEUs and exports dipped .5% to 109,411 TEUs, those declines were offset by a 2.8% increase in empty containers that moved through the port — totaling 300,257 TEUs — port officials said.

“We are continuing to seek solutions to improve efficiency as a record-breaking number of containers move through the port,” Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero said in a statement.

“We hope to relieve some of the stress points by continuing to support a transition of the entire supply chain to 24/7 operations and ensuring our industry partners can track containers with our new Supply Chain Information Highway data solution.”

The port has now set records in six of the last seven months. In addition, 5,793,621 TEUs moved through the port during the first seven months of the year — up 4.6% over the same period last year.

The port numbers come against a backdrop of weaker domestic demand, high inflation and what port officials called “aggressive tightening by the Federal Reserve.”

Overall, consumer spending rose 1% nationally in July, with an increase in spending on services offsetting a dip in the purchase of goods.

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