Containerized import volume at the US Port of Oakland declined by 3.3 percent last month when compared to 2014, for the first time since February.
The port attributed the decrease to lighter-than-usual peak-season activity.
“Autumn is usually the busy time in container shipping when retailers import goods for holiday store shelves. But ocean carriers are reporting lower demand for space on their ships,” the port explained.
The port said October export volume decreased 13.7 percent. Overall container volume – which includes imports, exports and empty containers – was off 6.9 percent.
Before last month, Oakland had reported seven consecutive months of import gains dating back to last winter.
The report comes as the port concludes a summer-long labor shortage that hampered the port’s operations.
Hundreds of new dockworkers have joined the Oakland labor pool since July. As a result, vessels are being loaded and unloaded on schedule and ships that bypassed Oakland due to the labor shortage are returning, the port claims.
The port said it will now concentrate on eliminating bottlenecks that delay cargo from reaching its final destination.
During a recent task force meeting, terminal operators noted recent acceleration in moving containerized cargo out of the Port. But some cargo owners said they still face delays in moving imports and exports through Oakland.
By January, the Federal Maritime Commission is expected to respond to a plan for full Saturday operations in Oakland. It’s anticipated that Saturday gates could open by March. They’re expected to ease pressure on Monday-through Friday operations.
In addition, major chassis-leasing companies are reviewing plans for a common pool of chassis to make it easier and faster for truckers to move in and out of terminals. The port expects the common pool to be up and running in the first quarter next year.