SUPPLY CHAIN

Report: Retail container traffic nearly flat through July

BY CSA STAFF

Washington, D.C. — A report released 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 remain at about the same levels as last year through July before starting to resume increases later this summer.

“With rising gas prices and challenges in the labor and housing markets, consumer spending has slowed and retailers have adjusted their inventory levels accordingly,” NRF VP for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. “We are confident long-term consumer demand will grow, and that imports will pick up significantly in the fall.”

U.S. ports followed by Global Port Tracker handled 1.22 million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units in April, the latest month for which numbers are available. That was up 12% from March and 7% from April 2010. It was the 17th month in a row to show a year-over-year improvement after December 2009 broke a 28-month streak of year-over-year declines.

One TEU is one 20-ft. cargo container or its equivalent.

May was estimated at 1.27 million TEU, only one-third of 1% over May 2010. June is forecast at 1.33 million TEU, a 1% increase from a year ago; July at 1.39 million TEU, up one-half of 1% from last year; August at 1.47 million TEU, up 3%; September at 1.49 million TEU, up 12%; and October at 1.54 million TEU, up 19%. August through October are traditionally the busiest months of the year as retailers stock up for the holiday season.

The first half of 2011 is forecast at 7.2 million TEU, up 5% from the first half of 2010.

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REAL ESTATE

Flip Flop Shops signs 100th franchise agreement

BY CSA STAFF

Atlanta — Sandal retailer Flip Flop Shops announced Thursday it has signed its 100th franchisee agreement for a new store to be located in Universal Studios, Calif. The store will be followed by openings in Santa Monica and Las Vegas.

The announcement follows recent news about the growing chain’s master franchise deal for Canada, which will see units open across the country.

Since launching its franchise program in 2008, Flip Flop Shops has opened 40 shops throughout the United States, Canada, Guam and the Caribbean. More than 60 shops are currently in development, and the company has announced a global expansion strategy calling for 236 locations to open by 2013.

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OPERATIONS

Survey: Formal succession planning on the decline in the U.S.

BY CSA STAFF

Alexandria, Va. — A poll from the Society of Human Resource Management, released Thursday, showed that the number of U.S. organizations with a formal succession plan in place decreased during the past five years from 29% in 2006 to 23% in 2011.

While less than a quarter of businesses have a formal plan in place, the numbers improve when informal plans are considered. More than one-third, or 38%, of human resources professionals said their organization currently has an informal succession plan or process in place (up from 29% in 2006).
The number who said their organizations have no intentions to develop a plan remained mostly unchanged from 16% in 2006 to 17% in 2011.

“The number one reason organizations are not developing formal succession planning is because more immediate projects are taking precedence — not surprising given that organizations are focusing their energies on dealing with an uncertain economic outlook,” said Evren Esen, manager, Survey Research Center at SHRM. “Still, succession planning has significant strategic implications for organizations and should not be put on the back burner, especially during times of economic volatility.”

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