The Port of Los Angeles will expand its hours of operation on nights and weekends to reduce port congestion that has contributed to consumer price inflation, the Biden administration said Oct. 13.
Major retailers Walmart, Target, and The Home Depot, as well as logistics firms UPS and FedEx, have committed to utilizing the off-peak hours, while the International Longshore and Warehouse Union will supply extra shifts from its workers, a statement from the White House added.
"By staying open seven days a week through the night and on the weekends, the Port of Los Angeles will open over 60 extra hours a week," Biden said in a press conference on Oct. 13. "In total that will almost double the number of hours the port is open for business from earlier this year."
The Port of Los Angeles and the adjacent Port of Long Beach, which expanded its gate hours at night in September, together handle around 40% of US container imports.
"Operational details are being discussed and worked out with the supply chain stakeholders," said Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka. "The significance of today's announcement is the commitment from industry leaders responsible for moving goods on behalf of American consumers and businesses to open up the capacity needed to deliver."
The announcements coincided with an Oct. 13 report that US consumer price inflation rose 5.4% in September from the same month a year ago.
There were 57 ships at anchor waiting to berth at the Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex or drifting nearby in the San Pedro Bay Oct. 13, up from a trough of 46 ships during China's Oct. 1-8 Golden Week holiday break, according to cFlow, Platts trade flow software.
The inability of shipping lines to return empty containers from import countries to exporters in Asia fast enough to meet demand has fueled a surge since last year in container spot rates. Platts Container Rate 13 — North Asia to West Coast North America — was assessed at $8,950/FEU Oct. 13, a 139% surge from the same date a year ago.