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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Companies are increasingly turning to the sky to try to keep up with America's demand for stuff.

  • They're now relying more on planes to carry inventory — rather than getting clothes, shoes and other goods shipped by sea from abroad.

Why it matters: It's an attempt to get around the supply chain snafus already hitting consumers — who have fewer stocked items to choose from and higher price tags because companies are paying more for goods themselves.

  • Sellers are warning that items could run out more quickly this year during Amazon Prime Day, according to CNBC.

Flashback: Companies have used planes to get cargo from overseas before — but it was as much as 10 times more expensive than ocean freight, according to the National Retail Federation's Jon Gold.

  • But it's more comparable now since sea shipping costs have skyrocketed.

Where it stands: Mentions of “air freight” and “air cargo” during corporate earnings calls and other events hit a record high (79) last month, according to data firm Sentieo.

  • Lululemon told investors it's "strategically using air freight" to offset inventory delays "due to issues at the ports."

Catch up quick: Companies are facing historic inventory holdups, thanks to a shortage of containers used to move goods across the ocean — and a backup at America's ports, where those containers arrive.

  • "What we're experiencing right now makes the temporary Suez Canal blockage look like a fender bender on a country road," says Steve Lamar, head of the American Apparel & Footwear Association.

What to watch: Companies are turning to planes only to find that they too are bogged down by demand.

  • "I don't know if the airlines have the capacity to take up as much slack as is needed," says Gold, who focuses on supply chain issues.

Go deeper

Shipping mania flashpoint: Retailers charter boats

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The world’s shipping chaos is pushing mega-retailers to make new investments: their own cargo ships.

Why it matters: It’s one way big companies are trying to circumvent the pandemic-fueled supply chain crisis that’s left store shelves sparse.

Sellers are putting more unbuilt or incomplete homes on the market

Data: Census Bureau, FRED; Chart: Axios Visuals

There are a lot of homes available for sale. The catch: you can’t move into them yet.

Why it matters: Strong demand for homes has driven up prices as the supply of homes for sale is at depressed levels.

Updated 42 mins ago - Health

COVID cases and deaths keep falling

Expand chart
Data: N.Y. Times; Cartogram: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

America’s coronavirus outbreak is rapidly improving as the Delta wave recedes, and vaccines for kids — which could become available within weeks — will help the situation improve even further.

By the numbers: Nationwide, the U.S. is now averaging about 79,000 new cases per day — a 22% drop over the past two weeks.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

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