SUPPLY CHAIN

NRF: Imports to increase in March

BY Dan Berthiaume

Washington, D.C. — Import volume at the nation’s major retail container ports is expected to increase 12.4% in March 2014 as retailers begin to stock up for the spring and the summer season, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates.

U.S. ports followed by Global Port Tracker handled 1.36 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEU) in January, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was up 5.3% from December and 4.1% from January 2013. One TEU is one 20-ft. cargo container or its equivalent.

February, historically the slowest month of the year, was estimated at 1.17 million TEU, down 8.8% from the same month the previous year. March is forecast at 1.28 million TEU, up 12.4% from the prior year; April at 1.36 million TEU, up 5.1%; May at 1.44 million TEU, up 3.7%; June at 1.43 million TEU, up 5.3%, and July at 1.49 million TEU, up 3.4%. The first half of the year is expected to total 8 million TEU, up 3.5% from the same period in 2013.

The total for 2013 was 16.2 million TEU, up 2.3% from 2012’s 15.8 million TEU. The import numbers come as NRF is forecasting 4.1% sales growth in 2014, contingent on how Washington policies on economic issues affect consumer confidence.

“Retailers are bouncing back from the annual post-holiday slowdown and getting ready for the surge in activity that comes each year as the weather warms up,” said Jonathan Gold, VP for supply chain and customs policy. “Shelves are going to be well-stocked with everything from bathing suits to barbecues.”

Global Port Tracker, which is produced for NRF by the consulting firm Hackett Associates, covers the U.S. ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle and Tacoma on the West Coast; New York/New Jersey, Hampton Roads, Charleston, Savannah, Port Everglades and Miami on the East Coast, and Houston on the Gulf Coast.

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REAL ESTATE

Starbucks, Disney to partner on six stores

BY Dan Berthiaume

Seattle – Starbucks Coffee Company and the Disneyland Resort will open a new company-owned Starbucks location at Downtown Disney in Anaheim, Calif. This store will be the first of four to be operated by Starbucks across Disney properties in the U.S.

Specific attractions of the store will include the story behind Starbucks coffee projected across a 10-ft. video installation and an interactive touch screen. In addition, this sustainably built to LEED standards location will include an outdoor patio designed around a native tree, reclaimed wood siding and a living, green wall with more than 1,000 plants in the shape of a coffee cup that serves as a backdrop to capturing memories for visiting guests.

“This store is a reflection of two iconic brands coming together to offer their customers the kind of high quality experience they expect in a way that embodies the unique passion of each,” said Arthur Rubinfeld, chief creative officer and president, global innovation for Starbucks. “Collaborating with Disney offered us the opportunity to create a unique moment of connection for our customers in a way that evokes the magic that their guests expect.”

Starbucks and Disney will bring five more Starbucks locations to guests, including: one additional Starbucks-operated location in Downtown Disney at Disneyland Resort, two Starbucks-operated locations at Downtown Disney at the Walt Disney World Resort and two Disney-operated locations at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Disney Hollywood Studios at the Walt Disney World Resort.

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FINANCE

Report: Sbarro files for bankruptcy

BY Dan Berthiaume

Melville, N.Y. – Sbarro LLC has reportedly filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for the second time since 2011. According to Reuters, Sbarro wants to reduce its debt by 80% via a pre-packaged reorganization that would allow it to exit bankruptcy before May 7, 2014.

Most of Sbarro’s creditors reportedly support the plan, which it said is necessitated by declining mall traffic and an unsustainable balance sheet. The plan requires court approval and Sbarro will reportedly also seek better offers from potential buyers.

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