Northwest Seaport Alliance import flow of containers grew 4 percent month over month in June as peak season begins to roll in with back-to-school cargo headed to American retail stores through the ports of Tacoma and Seattle.

With the highest June volume in the past four years, imports are expected to see a modest boost this summer and fall as retailers prepare for the school days and holiday shopping seasons.

The weakened Alaskan economy continues to affect domestic volumes, which are down 11 percent year to date to 343,936 TEUs. Total container volumes fell 3 percent year to date through June to 1,681,441 TEUs.

Meanwhile, breakbulk cargo also continues to struggle, down 36 percent to 93,975 metric tons due to the strong U.S. dollar, fuel price impacts on new projects and slowing economic growth in China. Auto imports declined nearly 4 percent to 90,214 units following last year’s all-time high volumes. 

Through the first six months of the year, full imports rose 1 percent to 649,183 TEUs (20-foot equivalent units), and full exports remain steady, up 12 percent to 468,634 TEUs.