After months of declines, the nation's second busiest seaport saw a significant spike in last month's cargo numbers from retailers readying for the holiday season.

Imports for October at the Port of Long Beach rose 15.2 percent, taking in 276,698 20-foot equivalent container units, or TEUs, last month as opposed to 240,248 TEUs in October 2011. From August to October, when retailers typically begin shipping out holiday goods, imports rose 6 percent from last year.

Exports also jumped 12.8 percent, from 118,325 TEUs in October 2011 to 133,503 TEUs last month.

Long Beach showed an 8.7 percent jump in overall cargo volumes last month compared to the same time a year ago.

Meanwhile, the number of empty containers, which are shipped overseas to be replenished with goods, dipped 7 percent from October 2011 to 120,112 TEUs.

"It's better than a year ago and reflects the optimism that importers have about the holiday season," said port spokesman Art Wong.

While the holiday season helped boost numbers, other factors may be contributing to the increase, Wong said. Retailers, fearing a disruption from labor talks with East Coast longshoremen, may have chosen to move their goods through the West Coast ports, Wong said. The port also received a boost from some shipping lines, including major line MSC, that now call at Long Beach, he said.

Meanwhile, the Port of Los Angeles' cargo volumes for October showed just a slight uptick of 0.82 percent, likely a result from MSC's departure, a port spokeswoman said Thursday.

Imports dropped 1.07 percent from a year ago, from 368,842 TEUs in October 2011 to 364,881 TEUs last month, according to the latest numbers released Wednesday. Exports also fell 7.10 percent, from 193,547 TEUs in October 2011 to 179,810 TEUs last month.

Overall, the L.A. port showed a 3.15 percent drop in total loaded imports and exports for October, from 562,390 TEUs last October to 544,692 TEUs in October 2012. Empty containers were up 15.66 percent from a year ago.

karen.robes@presstelegram.com, 562-714-2088, twitter.com/KarenMeeksPT