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Retail container traffic drops, but slated to gain as holidays near

BY Staff Writer

Washington, D.C. — A report released Tuesday by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates showed that import cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports dropped below last year, but are expected to see year-over-year gains again this fall.

According to the monthly Global Port Tracker report, volumes will stay below last year through the summer, but will edge up as retailers begin to stock up for the holiday season.

“Cargo numbers have been down this summer but that’s a reflection of last year’s unusual shipping patterns more than the economy,” NRF VP for supply chain and customs policy Jonathan Gold said. “The economy continues to face challenges, but job growth has been steady and retailers have been adding jobs themselves as sales improve. Cargo figures for this fall clearly show that retailers are expecting a healthy holiday season.”

U.S. ports followed by Global Port Tracker handled 1.25 million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units in June, the latest month for which numbers are available. That was down 2.6% from May and 5% from June 2010. One TEU is one 20-ft. cargo container or its equivalent.

June’s volume broke an 18-month streak of year-over-year improvement dating to December 2009, and declines continued in July, which was estimated at 1.3 million TEU, down 5.7% from July 2010..

Year-over-year increases are expected to resume in September, which is forecast at 1.48 million TEU, up 10.4% from last year. October is forecast at 1.46 million TEU, up 8% from last year; November at 1.31 million TEU, up 6.2%; and December at 1.18 million TEU, up 3%.

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Visa to accelerate chip migration and mobile payment adoption

BY Katherine Boccaccio

San Francisco — Visa announced Tuesday that it plans to accelerate the migration to EMV contact and contactless chip technology in the United States.

The adoption of dual-interface chip technology will help prepare the U.S. payment infrastructure for the arrival of NFC-based mobile payments by building the necessary infrastructure to accept and process chip transactions that support either a signature or PIN at the point of sale.

"By encouraging investments in EMV contact and contactless chip technology, we will speed up the adoption of mobile payments as well as improve international interoperability and security," said Jim McCarthy, global head of product, Visa Inc. "As NFC mobile payments and other chip-based emerging technologies are poised to take off in the coming years, we are taking steps today to create a commercial framework that will support growth opportunities and create value for all participants in the payment chain."

According to Visa, chip technology will accelerate mobile innovations, as well as secure payments into the future through the use of dynamic authentication. Chip technology greatly reduces a criminal’s ability to use stolen payment card data by introducing dynamic values for each transaction. Even if payment card data is compromised, a counterfeit card would be unusable at the point of sale without the presence of the card’s unique elements.

With regard to its specific plans, Visa said that, effective October 1, 2012, it will expand its Technology Innovation Program to the United States, eliminating the requirement for eligible merchants to annually validate their compliance with the PCI Data Security Standard for any year in which at least 75% of the merchant’s Visa transactions originate from chip-enabled terminals.

As well, Visa will require U.S. acquirer processors and sub-processor service providers to be able to support merchant acceptance of chip transactions no later than April 1, 2013.

And Visa said it intends to institute a U.S. liability shift for domestic and cross-border counterfeit card-present point-of-sale transactions, effective October 1, 2015.

Fuel-selling merchants will have an additional two years before a liability shift takes effect for transactions generated from automated fuel dispensers.

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NPD report: U.S. restaurant count down by 9,450 from last year

BY Staff Writer

Chicago — A Tuesday report by NPD Group said that U.S. restaurant unit counts declined by 2%, which translates to a loss of 9,450 restaurants since last year.

According to the report, most of the total unit declines were independent restaurants. Chain restaurant unit counts remained relatively stable, according to NPD research.

From April 1, 2010 to March 31, 2011, the number of quick-service restaurants declined by 1%, or 3,495 units. Full-service restaurant units, which includes casual dining, mid-scale and fine dining restaurants, decreased by 5,965 units, a 2% decline.

“The decline in independent units is the steepest we’ve seen since NPD began conducting the Spring ReCount census in 2001,” said Greg Starzynski, director, product development-foodservice. “A volatile economy, more frugal consumers, and a lack of financial backing have made it a difficult business environment for independent restaurants.”

According to NPD’s CREST report, which continually tracks consumer usage of commercial and non-commercial foodservice outlets, the declines the restaurant industry has been experiencing over the last several years are improving. For year ending May 2011, visits to U.S. restaurants held stable compared to same time year ago when visits were down 3%. Consumer spending at restaurants improved by 2% for year ending May 2011 compared with same time year ago when dollars were down by 1%.

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