A surge in cargo traffic at the nation's major retail container ports indicates that retailers are stocking up early for this year's holiday shopping season, the National Retail Federation reported Tuesday. 

The pace of container traffic in August is set to surpass a record high from last October, which is traditionally the busiest month of the year, the Washington-based trade group said. Last year, October traffic saw 1.51 million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units, or TEUs, passing through major retail container ports in Los Angeles, Oakland, Tacoma, Seattle, New York, New Jersey, and Savannah. August traffic is expected to hit 1.56 million TEUs, up 5 percent from last year, before volume drops off into September, the report said.

"This pattern of new records being broken early shows that retailers are bringing holiday season merchandise into the country sooner than in the past," Erik Autor, the group's vice president and international trade counsel, said in a statement.

Stocking up early protects store owners from unforeseen problems in the supply chain, Autor said.

Published on: Aug 7, 2007