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Report: Port strike would threaten spring retail sales

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New York City — A Wednesday report by MarketWatch said that a potential strike by nearly 15,000 dock workers at 14 ports from Boston to Houston beginning on Sunday may derail retailers’ spring selling as well.

National Retail Federation supply chain and custom policy issues head Jonathan Gold told MarketWatch that, even though a federal mediator has called for a meeting of the International Longshoremen’s Association and the U.S. Maritime Alliance ahead of the Dec. 29 contract expiration, it’s not clear when and where the two parties would do that in the next few days.

According to Gold, the two parties are in disagreement over container royalties, or the supplemental payments made to the workers based on the weight of containers that come through the ports.

The 14 ports along the East Coast and Gulf Coast handle about 6.5 million import containers annually, or 40% of imports to the U.S. The Port of New York and New Jersey is the largest port on the East Coast and the second largest in the country after the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach combined, where an eight-day strike ended earlier this month.

An East Coast strike “would have a significant impact on everybody through the supply chain,” Gold said.

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Online sales up 15.2% for the season

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New York — Research results released Wednesday by Chase found that online holiday shopping sales for the season rose 15.2% year-over-year.

By event, the Chase Holiday Pulse reported that from Black Friday Nov. 23 through Friday, Nov. 30, year-over-year sales increased 22.5% and transactions increased 32.7%.

Green Monday kicked off the busiest week of the season: In terms of total transaction volume, Pulse showed that the period from Dec 10th (Green Monday) to Sunday, Dec 16th was the busiest seven-day period of the holiday shopping season, with year-over-year transaction up 16.6%.

In 2012, the ‘showrooming’ phenomenon went mainstream, as the survey showed that consumers used their mobile devices to research items they saw in-store, but then purchased online.

Heavy promotional activity from merchants during the holiday season was especially evident this year, with merchants attracting more online shoppers with email, online coupons, and discounts. To illustrate this, Pulse data for the weekend between Black Friday and Cyber Monday reflected an average sales growth of 38.3% year-over-year.

Average Ticket Price continued to trend downward with year-to-date overall season results down 7.3% driven in part by additional free shipping offers from merchants and continued customer demand for low-ticket digital content.

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ShopperTrak: Retail sales, traffic increased week-over-week

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Chicago — A report issued Thursday by ShopperTrak found that last-minute shopping activity drove large increases in both retail sales and foot traffic last week.

ShopperTrak reported that for the week ending Dec. 22, sales increased 39.1% and traffic increased 32% compared to the previous week.

Compared to the same week last year, however, retail sales declined 2.5% and foot traffic declined 3.3%.

"This final week of shopping before Christmas finished strong," said ShopperTrak founder Bill Martin. "Procrastinators finally headed to the stores and helped several days of this past week secure places as the best-performing retail days of the year."

"Super Saturday," Dec. 22, was the second-busiest retail sales and foot traffic day of the year, behind Black Friday (Nov. 23). Additionally, Friday, Dec. 21, was the fourth-busiest sales and traffic day.

ShopperTrak forecasts that Wednesday, Dec. 26, will be the fifth-best retail foot traffic day and the seventh-best sales day of the year.

"Shopping on the day after Christmas won’t be as strong this year," said Martin. "Last year, Dec. 26 fell on a Monday. Many people had the day off, which they spent shopping. This year, the day after Christmas was a Wednesday – many people were back at work, not out in stores."

ShopperTrak will release its retail sales and foot traffic numbers for the week ending Dec. 29 as part of its holiday wrap-up news on Jan. 8.

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