FINANCE

NRF: 2010 retail container traffic expected to be up 15%

BY CSA STAFF

Washington, D.C. A report released late Thursday by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates said that import cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports is expected to total 14.5 million containers for 2010. That’s a 15% increase over last year’s unusually low numbers, according to the findings of the monthly Global Port Tracker report.

“We aren’t back to where we were two years ago and consumers aren’t convinced that the recession is over quite yet, but 2010 is clearly going to finish better than last year,” said Jonathan Gold, VP supply chain and customs policy for NRF. “In the meantime, retailers are monitoring demand very closely and hoping to see increases in employment and other areas that will boost consumer confidence.”

Gold added that cargo numbers this summer are showing unusually high percentage increases, but “that appears to be an indication of shortages in shipping capacity earlier in the year rather than sales expectations.”

U.S. ports handled 1.32 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units in June, the latest month for which actual numbers are available. That was up 4% from May and 30% from June 2009. It was the seventh month in a row to show a year-over-year improvement after December broke a 28-month streak of year-over-year declines. (One TEU is one 20-foot cargo container or its equivalent.)

July was estimated at 1.38 million TEU, a 25% increase over last year. The Port Tracker report said that August is forecast at 1.32 million TEU, up 14% from last year; September also at 1.32 million TEU, up 16%; October at 1.31 million TEU, up 10%; November at 1.19 million TEU, up 9%; and December at 1.12 million TEU, up 2%.

According to the report, the double-digit increases in June and July appear to be the result of backlogs built up due to the lack of shipping capacity earlier in the year after ship owners took vessels out of service during the recession and were slow to return them as the economy began to pick up.

With many retailers appearing to bring merchandise in early to avoid any further bottlenecks, the report indicated that July is likely to be the peak shipping month for 2010 rather than the traditional rush of holiday season merchandise in October.

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NDN sees Q1 sales, earnings boost

BY CSA STAFF

CITY OF COMMERCE, Calif. Ninety-Nine Cents Only Stores reported that sales for the first quarter increased by 4.6% to $336.6 million and same-store sales increased 2.7%. Consolidated net income increased by $7.3 million to $16.8 million, or 24 cents per diluted share, versus $9.5 million in the prior year, or 14 cents per diluted share.

Eric Schiffer, CEO of Ninety-Nine Cents Only Stores, stated, “For our second quarter of fiscal 2011, ending on Sept. 25, which is typically our most challenging quarter due to seasonal factors, we expect low single digit same-store sales and are targeting a 20% improvement in pre-tax profit margin compared to the second quarter of fiscal 2010. In addition to the seasonal factors that cause the September quarter to be less profitable than the June quarter, we expect higher freight costs versus last year’s second quarter and furthermore, we are investing in a store level merchandise ordering system, and will incur training and learning costs as we complete the roll out of phase one of this system to our stores this quarter.

“For fiscal 2011 we expect positive same-store sales in the low single digits and plan to open approximately 5% more stores in our existing markets, primarily in the second half of the year. “

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NPD: Consumers spending more, but shopping later for BTS

BY CSA STAFF

PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. The NPD Group found that this year 38% of respondents to its back-to-school spending intentions survey, said they plan to spend less this year compared with last year’s 44%.

Consumers are continuing to put off shopping until the last minute. Half the number of consumers this year (3%) compared with last year (6%) said they have purchased for back-to-school already, NPD reported.

 

“More and more consumers keep telling us that they are putting off their shopping later and later each year,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst, The NPD Group. “I would say that this is change in the timing of consumption, more people ‘buying now and wearing now,’ is part of the lingering impact of the recession.”

 

While consumers’ plans indicate a later start to their shopping they still plan to buy and the category that tops most back-to-school shopping lists is school supplies with 74% of the study’s respondents saying they plan to purchase them. Two categories that appear to be getting this biggest lift this season are apparel (58% this year vs. 52% last year) and footwear (45% this year vs. 39% last year).

This year national chain stores are seeing the biggest boost in the number of consumers who say they plan to shop there, according to NPD. This year 33% said they plan to shop them, last year that number was 29%. Mass merchants, office supply stores, department stores and footwear specialty stores round out the top five.

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