In the nearly 40 years she has spent in trade, Amy Magnus has never seen retailers hoarding so much inventory.

Warehouses throughout the United States are at record capacity with Chinese imports of all kinds – microwaves, vacuum cleaner filters, swimwear, furniture – stacked to the ceiling, according to Magnus, who heads the National Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association of America, whose members work with over 250,000 importers and exporters.

“My office is right on a land border and I can see the trucks just coming across non-stop from my window,” Magnus said, referring to her birds-eye view from Champlain, New York, of trade on the border between Canada and the United States.

“Even with Christmas, it’s been notably busier this week and last week than it’s ever been before.”

She is one of over a dozen customs brokers, retailers, vendors, analysts and supply chain experts who told Reuters that retailers have been stockpiling inventory from China to avoid higher tariffs that may kick in next year.

The buying binge is also evident in recent data from the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates, which show imports at major U.S. retail container ports surged 13.6 percent to a record 2.04 million containers in October. This helped push the U.S. trade deficit with China to a record high.

(more at reuters.com)