PORT of Melbourne saw a strong month for container throughput in December, with a total throughput of 260,925 TEU – 4% more than throughput in December 2019. 

A statement from the port said volumes were strong as a result of the Christmas/summer holiday retail rush and continued changes to consumer spending as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The statement said shipping schedules are still adjusting after interruptions in previous months, and sever vessels have either bypassed Port Botany to unload at Melbourne to avoid congestion or called ad Melbourne first. 

While container volumes for December alone were up 4% on the same month in 2019, year-to-date total container throughput volume at the port was up 7.6%.  

Full overseas container imports, including transhipments were up 14.8%, with year-to-date volumes up by 11.2%. 

Full overseas exports, including transhipments, were down 14.3% but up 0.4% for the year-to-date. 

Tasmanian full container volumes, excluding transhipments, up by 13.6%, with year-to-date volumes up by 17.6%. 

The port recorded record empty container movements over the month, totalling 69,078 TEU, 1.8% above December 2019 and 11.2% up for the year to date 

Full transhipment volumes were 2500 TEU higher. 

Total motor vehicle volumes (by units) increased 8.2% overall (2455units). Port of Melbourne said this reflects the strong automotive market sales nationally in December driven by the easing of COVID-19 domestic travel restrictions and consumer demand as a result of an inability to travel internationally. 

In the dry-bulk category, a 33% increase (revenue tonnes), with two export shipments of wheat totalling 94,600 tonnes compared to nil in December 2019. 

Liquid bulk was down 15.9% overall. 

The port noted that some container truck operators have been reporting concerns on landside congestion. 

“PoM has made three new sites available for additional storage capacity,” the port said in a statement. 

“PoM continues to proactively work with shipping lines, empty container parks, terminal operators and industry members to identify further suitable vacant PoM land, together with additional non-PoM land, for short-term overflow capacity storage.”