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Imports Climb With Back-to-School Season

As retailers stock up for the back-to-school season, imports at the nation’s major retail container ports is expected to rise 7.3% this month over July 2014, according to the Global Port Tracker report released by the National Retail Federation.

Jonathan Gold, NRF vice president for supply chain and customs policy, said, “Now that West Coast ports have recovered from the congestion caused by the recently settled contract dispute, retailers are focused on the back-to-school season to ensure that parents can find the supplies and clothing their children need for the fall.”

Gold added that retailers are continuing to work to address ongoing congestion issues impacting their supply chains. He said that part of the solution will be Congress passing a long-term highway bill that addresses freight movement.

A five-year contract between the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union was ratified in May. The previous contract expired last July.

Ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.61 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units in May, which was up 6.2% from April and 8.2% from May 2014.

June was estimated at 1.56 million TEU, up 5.5% from 2014. July is forecast at 1.6 million TEU, up 7.3%; August is also at 1.6 million TEU, up 5.5%; and September at 1.63 million TEU, up 2.4%. The first half of 2015 was estimated at 8.8 million TEU, up 6.4% over the same period last year.

In a press release, Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett said the increases in imports reflect a general economic upswing. “U.S. consumer spending recorded its largest increase in nearly six years in May, suggesting that the level of confidence about the future has improved,” Hackett said. “This is very positive news.”