LOS ANGELES, Sept. 15 (Reuters) – A record 60 container ships are anchored or adrift in San Pedro Bay, waiting to be unloaded at the Port of Los Angeles / Long Beach seaports and 20 others are expected to arrive in the next few days, a port official said on Wednesday.

While the pandemic still rages around the world, American consumers have not fully resumed their previous spending on restaurants and travel, but they continue to splurge on products ranging from home appliances and exercise equipment home to sweatpants and toys.

Volume at the Port of Los Angeles – America’s busiest gateway for trade with Asia – is up 30.3% so far this calendar year.

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The global supply chain has been shaken due to overwhelming demand for freight;, temporary closures of COVID-19-related ports and factories in Asia; shortages of shipping containers and key products like resin and computer chips; and inclement weather. Transportation costs have skyrocketed, compounding delays and fueling product shortages.

“The disruption continues at every node in the supply chain,” said Gene Seroka, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles.

The containers wait at the Port of Los Angeles docks for a six-day peak for pickup from the trucks, Seroka said. Containers on chassis wait 8.5 days “on the street” for warehouse space or to be returned empty to port. There are nearly 8,000 containers ready to be taken by train, with a wait of 11.7 days, Seroka said.

US ports open on weekends to give truckers more time to pick up cargo – and companies like Walmart Inc (WMT.N) are investing millions of dollars to bolster their operations near the port.

August cargo volumes at the Port of Los Angeles nearly matched the surge the year before, when companies scrambled to restock supplies depleted by the pandemic and retailers scrambled for holiday items.

The Port of Los Angeles’ total volume reached 954,377 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in August, down 0.8% from the previous year, port authorities said. Loaded imports fell 5.9% to 485,672 TEUs.

The port sent 367,413 TEUs of empty containers to factories in China and elsewhere, an increase of 17% from last year. This far exceeded loaded exports which fell 22.9% to 101,292 TEUs.

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Reporting by Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles; Editing by David Gregorio

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