Retail Groups Welcome Ratification of Port Contract, Call for Future Reform

Retail associations have responded to news that the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) has ratified a five-year labor contract with the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), covering dockworkers at 29 ports on the West Coast.

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Imports Settling Down After Surge to Clear Backlog, Reports NRF

nrfAccording to the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates’ monthly Global Port Tracker, import cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports is returning to normal levels as officials prepare to count votes on ratification of a new West Coast labor agreement that ended months of uncertainty.

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NRF Reports Imports Are Rising as West Coast Ports Recover

nrfImport cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports is expected to rise 8 percent this month over the same time last year as West Coast ports continue to recover from a backlog of cargo that built up before a tentative new labor agreement was signed, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released today by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates.

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NRF Predicts Imports to Rise as West Coast Ports Work on Backlog

nrfAccording to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released today by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates, import cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports is expected to rise an unusually high 16.9 percent this month over the same time last year as West Coast ports begin to dig out from a backlog of cargo, which built up during the just-concluded contract negotiations with dockworkers.
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Deal Reached to End Severe West Coast Port Backlog

Multiple sources report that the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) have reached a tentative agreement on a new five-year labor contract, ending several months of back-ups and delays at 29 West Coast ports.

The deal was reached with the assistance of U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez and Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service Deputy Director Scot Beckenbaugh, following more than nine months of talks. As reported by Bloomberg News this past Friday, talks had broken down this month over a union demand that it be able to fire arbitrators in workplace grievances. The two sides had reached terms over salaries, benefits, the right of union members to maintain and repair truck chassis used to haul shipping containers, and health care. [Read more...]

NRF Calls on White House to Intervene in West Coast Ports Dispute

nrfFollowing news that terminal vessel operations at west coast ports have been suspended, the National Retail Federation (NRF) called on the White House to intervene.

“The slowdowns need to end,” says NRF Vice President for Supply Chain Jonathan Gold. “It’s time for the White House to immediately engage in this critically important economic priority and force the two sides to remain at the negotiating table until a deal is done.”

Import cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports were expected to rise 10.1 percent this month over the same period last year, even as west coast ports came closer to a possible shutdown, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker released by the NRF and Hackett Associates.

Despite nine months of ongoing talks, the lack of a contract between the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, as well as other operational issues, has led to crisis-level congestion at the ports.

NRF Says Supreme Court Ruling on Swipe Fees Leaves Merchants and Consumers Paying Too Much

nrfOn Tuesday, the National Retail Federation (NRF) expressed disappointment at the U.S. Supreme Court for not reviewing an appellate court ruling on whether the Federal Reserve (Fed) set a 2011 cap on debit card swipe fees higher than the level sought by Congress in legislation passed the year before. [Read more...]

NRF Reports 4 Percent Increase in Retail Holiday Sales

nrfAccording to the National Retail Federation (NRF), December retail sales, which exclude automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants, decreased 0.9 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month, and 4.6 percent unadjusted year-over-year. The significant drop in gasoline prices for the month of December brought down much of the month-to-month growth. [Read more...]

Total Spending, Number of Shoppers Down During Black Friday Weekend

As reported by the National Retail Federation (NRF), roughly 87 million Americans visited stores on Black Friday. However, total spending for the long Thanksgiving weekend is projected to be down more than 10 percent from last year’s estimate.

According to an NRF survey released on Sunday, total spending for the four-day weekend is expected to reach $50.9 billion, a decrease of 11.3 percent from last year’s estimate of $57.4 billion. NRF data also estimates that 133.7 million shoppers will have visited stores this weekend, down 5 percent year-over-year and below the expected number of 140.1 million. The survey also estimates flat growth in online sales.

This data follows strong starts reported by some retailers for the Black Friday weekend. Both Wal-Mart Stores and Target Corp. began offering special Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving Day, beginning at 6 p.m. While neither Wal-Mart nor Target has reported specific sales figures, both claimed a high number of customers that shopped at stores as well as online. [Read more...]

Gift Cards Are Shoppers’ Choice This Holiday Season, Says NRF

nrfThis holiday season, gift card spending is set to top all previous records. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF)’s Gift Card Spending Survey, the average person buying gift cards will spend $172.74, up from $163.16 last year, with total spending expected to reach $31.74 billion. In an October NRF survey, 62 percent of shoppers said they would like to receive a gift card, making gift cards the most requested gift item for eight years in a row.

According to the survey, shoppers will spend more on average per card than they did last year, with total spending on gift cards increasing 83 percent since NRF began tracking consumers’ intentions to buy gift cards as holiday gifts in 2003.

The survey found adults 65 and up will spend the most on gift cards, with young adults between 18 to 24 years old spending the least, and men planning to spend significantly more than women ($180.81 versus $165.09, respectively).

Shoppers noted the ease of buying, the ability to allow recipients to select their own gifts, and sticking to holiday budgets as top reasons for choosing gift cards over traditional gifts. Gift cards for department stores, restaurants, and coffee shops are expected to be top choices this holiday season.