STORES Magazine - April 2015 - (Page 65)

n NRF COMMUNITIES UPDATE Ports Need to Be a Gateway, Not a Barrier by JONATHAN GOLD Jonathan Gold is NRF vice president for supply chain and customs policy. While a tentative West Coast port labor contract agreement has finally been reached between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and Pacific Maritime Association, the issues facing our nation's ports haven't been solved. Plenty of other operational matters challenge the efficienthe West Coast ports, which have all seen a loss of cargo cy of U.S. ports, impacting the ability of our ports to truly in early 2015 as retailers and others shift cargo to other be best-in-class with regard to operations and efficiency. ports, including those on the East Coast, Gulf Coast and in We appreciate that the parties have finally agreed to a Canada. There needs to be a better way to negotiate these tentative contract on the West Coast, but they still need to contracts that recognizes the collective bargaining process ratify it. That probably won't happen until the end of April. while not threatening the economy. Meanwhile, the ports are focused on digging out of the While all of the attention has been on the West Coast, backlog created by months of slowdowns and congestion. other U.S. ports have also seen their share of challenges Several port executives have said it will take three months to because of other operational issues, including the ability clear out the backlog. to handle larger vessels, equipment The West Coast port slowdowns management, managing long truck had negative impacts on everyone turnaround times and a lack of infrawho relies on the ports. Retailers and structure investment. A study by NRF and the other importers missed delivery dates Port operations need to evolve. National Association of as they waited for finished goods In his State of the Union address, Manufacturers estimated and incurred additional transportaPresident Obama said "21st-century that a five-day shutdown of tion costs for implementing costly businesses need 21st-century infraWest Coast ports would have structure" and he specifically called contingency plans. Manufacturers cost the U.S. economy close had to slow assembly lines because for "modern ports." We couldn't they didn't have parts and materials agree more, as modern ports are to $10 billion. needed for production. Exporters critical to reaching customers both of finished goods and materials lost here and abroad. However, the chalcustomers and sales because they lenges outlined above are preventing couldn't meet contractual delivery us from having truly "modern ports." dates. Agriculture exporters lost markets that they may There are attempts by individual ports to address these never again recover. Not to mention the impact to local problems, like those by the Council on Port Productivity cretransportation interests, including truckers who couldn't ated by the Ports of New York and New Jersey. move cargo because containers weren't moving through the We need to get beyond recommendations, though, and ports. start implementing solutions that will address these issues. While the full impact of the slowdowns has yet to be Ports are a critical part of the global supply chain. There measured, a study by NRF and the National Association of needs to be a renewed focus on truly making them a gateManufacturers estimated that a five-day shutdown would way that benefits all parties - labor, management, importhave cost the U.S. economy close to $10 billion. ers, exporters, transportation providers and others. NRF will Cargo is flowing again, but there continue to be issues continue to work with the ports and other stakeholders to between management and labor as witnessed by a recent make sure the ports are prepared for the increasing cargo shutdown of a major terminal at the Port of Oakland. These volumes and bigger ships that are expected to continue to continuing disruptions do not help restore confidence in arrive at our shores. NRF.COM/STORES STORES April 2015 65 http://www.NRF.COM/STORES

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of STORES Magazine - April 2015

A Most Complex Game
It's All Connected
Retail People
Selling Satisfaction
Editor's Page
President's Page
Retail Politics
NRF News
NRF Communities Update
End Cap
Business Operations
Online Fraud

STORES Magazine - April 2015