SUPPLY CHAIN

Report: Retail container traffic to show increases in first half of 2012

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Washington, D.C. — The monthly Global Port Tracker report, released Wednesday by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates, said that import cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports is expected to be down 6.8% in February from the same month a year ago. However, volumes should show year-over-year increases through most of the remaining first half of 2012.

“With consumer confidence building, retailers are optimistic that the economy is recovering but are continuing to be cautious with their inventory levels,” NRF VP for supply chain and customs policy Jonathan Gold said. “Merchants want to be sure that growth will be sustained and that demand will be there to meet supply.”



U.S. ports followed by Global Port Tracker handled 1.17 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units in December, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was down 6% from November since holiday merchandise was already on the shelves but up 2% from December 2010 and brought 2011 to a close at 14.8 million TEU, up 0.4% from 2010’s 14.75 million TEU. One TEU is one 20-ft. cargo container or its equivalent.



January 2012 was estimated at 1.17 million TEU, down 3.3% from January 2011, and February, historically the slowest month of the year, is forecast at 1.03 million TEU, down 6.8% from a year ago. Increases are expected to resume in March, forecast at 1.18 million TEU, up 8.6% from last year. April is forecast at 1.25 million TEU, up 2.4%; May at 1.28 million TEU, down 0.7%; and June at 1.28 million, up 3%. The first half of 2012 should total 7.18 million TEU, up 0.5% from the same period last year.

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OPERATIONS

Survey: Retail hiring managers concerned about top-worker turnover

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Chicago — A survey released Wednesday by WorkInRetail.com found that 45% of retail hiring managers are concerned that their top workers will leave the organization in 2012.

WorkInRetail.com, CareerBuilder’s job site for retail professionals, polled 247 retail hiring managers and 654 full-time retail employees in November and December 2011. The survey was conducted by Harris Interactive.

Among the findings, 31% of retail hiring managers saw an increase in voluntary turnover in 2011. Of that group, 64% cited workers getting higher pay somewhere else as the main reason they left; 42% said employees felt over-worked and had no work/life balance.

“Retail workers are opportunity driven, and if the survey tells us anything, it’s that high-value employees are constantly surveying the landscape,” said Bill Meidell, director of WorkInRetail.com. “However, it’s not just about pay. Many retail professionals want a long-term, stable job with opportunities for advancement. Communicating career paths is crucial to retaining top talent and building a motivated team.”

Polled managers cited the following as their top staffing challenges: Being able to retain top talent (39%); being able to provide competitive compensation (35%); worker burnout (31%); maintaining productivity levels (31%); can’t find high-skilled applicants (27%); being able to provide upward mobility (22%); and don’t have the budget to recruit (16%).

Beyond salary and wage increases, Meidell said organizations can offer a broader range of perks and benefits to remain an attractive place to work. According to retail employees, the most important factors in evaluating a potential employer are:

  • Longevity/stability: 69%
  • Good work culture: 59%
  • Career advancement opportunity: 49%
  • Flexible schedules: 46%
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REAL ESTATE

Urban Outfitters unveils second bridal boutique

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Chicago — A Tuesday report by the Chicago Tribune said that Urban Outfitters has opened its second BHLDN store, the apparel retailer’s fledgling bridal concept that first debuted in Houston last summer.

The second store (pronounced “beholden”), which opened in Chicago on Tuesday, features 3,600 sq. ft. over two levels and is located across from the Waldorf Astoria hotel in the Gold Coast. Design attributes include a nod to a 19th century European townhouse with 15-ft. ceilings, grand windows and a spiral staircase. Tech touches include iPod docking stations in the fitting rooms, allowing bridal parties to listen to their own music while they shop.

Urban Outfitters launched the bridal business online a year ago.

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