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Retail container traffic to increase 10% in March

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Washington, D.C. — A report released Tuesday by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates said that import cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports is expected to increase 10% in March compared with the same month last year. And, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker, year-over-year gains should continue through mid-summer.

“Retailers are still watching all the economic indicators very carefully, but there are enough signs of improvement that stores are carefully stocking up,” NRF VP for supply chain and customs policy Jonathan Gold said. “Retailers only import more if they expect to sell more, so these numbers are a sign that optimism is growing.”

U.S. ports followed by Global Port Tracker handled 1.22 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units in January, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was up 4.4% from December and 1.3% from January 2011. One TEU is one 20-foot cargo container or its equivalent.

February, historically the slowest month of the year, was estimated at 1.05 million TEU, down 4.2% from a year ago, and March is forecast at 1.2 million TEU, up 10% from last year. April is forecast at 1.26 million TEU, up 3.6%; May at 1.28 million TEU, the same as last year; June at 1.3 million TEU, up 4.2%; and July at 1.36 million TEU, up 2.8%. The total for 2011 was 14.8 million TEU, up 0.4% from 2010’s 14.75 million TEU.

The first half of 2012 should total 7.32 million TEU, up 2.4% from the same period last year.

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Former PetSmart exec to fill new sustainability role at Kroger

BY CSA STAFF

CINCINNATI — Sustainability is a core part of most retailers’ strategies, but unless you have someone to lead the charge, those efforts can fall by the wayside. Kroger has taken steps to ensure its sustainable initiatives are met by hiring Suzanne Lindsay to fill the new role of director of sustainability. Lindsay will direct Kroger’s internal sustainability initiatives and will lead the company’s sustainability leadership team.

Lindsay previously created and led sustainability initiatives at PetSmart Inc. She has also worked extensively in real estate, development, and civil engineering. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from Lawrence Technological University, in Michigan.

"We have made substantial progress in sustainability in the past five years through energy savings, waste reduction, transportation efficiency and by reducing the use of plastic bags," said Lynn Marmer, group VP corporate affairs at Kroger. "Suzanne will help us accelerate our progress and identify new opportunities to improve our environmental stewardship. We are pleased that she is joining the Kroger family."

An overview of Kroger’s sustainability efforts can be found at http://sustainability.kroger.com.

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New baby care partnership is born at Sam’s Club

BY CSA STAFF

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Mass merchandiser Sam’s Club has made a deal with the pregnancy and parenting brand of an author who has signed on to write articles in its in-store magazine.

The retailer announced Tuesday a partnership with What To Expect‘s online component, WhatToExpect.com, to offer baby products on the site. The brand, a division of Everyday Health, is an offshoot of Heidi Murkoff’s New York Times best-seller, "What to Expect When You’re Expecting." Murkoff has signed on to write for every issue of Healthy Living Made Simple, the bimonthly magazine that the retailer recently launched.

"When you add up all those nursery needs and baby care necessities, little ones can come with a big bottom line, and for many parents, it’s a super-sized stretch for their budgets," Murkoff said. "By collaborating on this exclusive retail program with Sam’s Club, we’ll be able to help moms and dads provide the best for their babies without breaking the bank."

Starting at noon on Wednesday, Sam’s Club shoppers can participate in a What To Expect parenting Twitter chat, which Murkoff will host, and five participants who tweet with #HealthyMoms and follow @WhatToExpect and @SamsClub will receive packs of baby products worth nearly $1,500, including a copy of Murkoff’s books and products from Gerber and Huggies.

"Sam’s Club is very excited to work with WhatToExpect.com to offer our new parents and expectant moms with expert advice form Heidi Murkoff, along with the important resources parents need, as well as high-quality and affordable products, such as diapers, car seats and feeding essentials," Sam’s Club SVP health and wellness Jill Turner-Mitchael said.

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