The Port of Long Beach. File photo.

As stores stock up ahead of the holiday shopping season, the Port of Long Beach recorded its strongest August on record in terms of container movement, port officials announced Thursday.

During August, the port moved 807,704 twenty-foot equivalent units—the standard measures for shipping containers—an 11.3% increase compared to August of last year.  Imports were up 11.7% to 407,426 TUEs, while exports decreased 5.3% to 119,485.

“It’s peak season now but we’re likely to see continued cargo growth well into 2022,” Executive Director Mario Cordero said in a statement.

The port has broken cargo movement records in 13 of the last 14 months but the increased volume coupled with impacts of the pandemic have caused cargo delays and a backlog of ships off the coast. On Aug. 27, the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles set a new record when 44 container ships were anchored off the coast waiting to enter the complex, according to the Marine Exchange of Southern California.

“In order to stay on top of this cargo, ports will need to adapt,” Cordero said. “We will need to find the long-term solutions that will satisfy consumer demand, increase efficiency at the ports and reduce costs for our customers.”

High volumes of empty containers moved through the port continued, increasing 19.7% to 280,794 compared to the same month last year.

Although, consumer demand softened in August compared to July, overall retail sales last month were about 18% above pre-pandemic levels, according to port officials. This sales bumps has been driving increased goods movement as retailers replace inventory.

Through August, the Port of Long Beach—the second-busiest seaport in the U.S.—has moved 6,346,377 TEUs this year, a 29.2% increase from the same eight-month period in 2020.