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Strong growth in merchandise imports to resume in fall

BY Staff Writer

Washington, D.C. — Import volume at the nation’s major retail container ports is expected to increase a modest 1.1% in July over the same month last year, but a slow summer should be followed by significant increases as retailers head into the holiday season this fall, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released Wednesday by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.


“With the economy recovering slowly, retailers have been cautious with imports this summer but it’s clear that they expect an upturn later in the year,” NRF VP for supply chain and customs policy Jonathan Gold said. “Import numbers have been close to flat since spring, but we expect to see stronger increases this fall.”

Cargo import numbers count only the number of cargo containers brought into the country, not the value of the merchandise inside them. But the amount of merchandise imported nonetheless provides a rough barometer of retailers’ expectations. U.S. ports followed by Global Port Tracker handled 1.38 million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units in May, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was up 1.2% from April.

June was estimated at 1.37 million TEU, down 0.7% from a year ago. July is forecast at 1.43 million TEU, up 1.1% from last year; August at 1.45 million TEU, up 1.7%; September at 1.44 million TEU, up 2.4%; October at 1.46 million TEU, up 9.1%; and November at 1.38 million TEU, up 7.3%. The first six months of 2013 totaled an estimated 7.8 million TEU, up 1.2% from the first half of 2012. The total for 2012 was 15.8 million TEU, up 2.9% from 2011.


Despite the projected increase in imports, Hackett Associates founder Ben Hackett said actual results will hinge on consumer confidence.

“Consumer sales remain relatively weak compared with GDP,” Hackett said. “If consumers do not turn their confidence into purchases then import volumes will drop.”

Global Port Tracker, which is produced for NRF by the consulting firm Hackett Associates, covers the U.S. ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle and Tacoma on the West Coast; New York/New Jersey, Hampton Roads, Charleston, Savannah, Port Everglades and Miami on the East Coast, and Houston on the Gulf Coast.

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Macy’s courts back-to-school shoppers on social media

BY CSA STAFF

NEW YORK — Macy’s is getting social, and that’s the place to be when reaching out to potential shoppers who are getting ready to go back to school.

The retailer is offering students an interactive shopping experience that allows them to connect with one another and stay current on the latest trends and events. To drive traffic into its brick-and-mortar and e-commerce site, the retailer is complementing savings on popular brands with social programs, Facebook and Twitter sweepstakes, family-oriented activities and a charitable partnership with Reading Is Fundamental.

“Macy’s is a favorite destination during the back-to-school season,” said Martine Reardon, Macy’s CMO. “Whether buying on a budget or looking for the brands you love, Macy’s is your one-stop shop for everything needed to head back in style. In addition to great fashion, we’ve also added exciting partnerships with hit television series, music acts and style-setters to add even more fun to the Macy’s shopping experience for our customers.”

Macy’s is courting the college crowd with a landing page that offers them “a crash course in dorm essentials” such as bedding and bath to décor and organization must-haves. The page offers students inspiration, shopping tips and a printable checklist with a simple click and allows them to create and share wish lists with their Facebook and Twitter networks or via e-mail. Students are also encouraged to text DORM to 62297 or on the page between now and July 31 for a chance to win a $500 Macy’s gift card.

Macy’s is courting parents of younger students as well with a first day of school photo sweepstakes on its Facebook page. The retailer is encouraging parents to upload photos of their children, ages 5 through 10, on their first day of school for the chance to win a $500 Macy’s gift card. The sweepstakes runs from Aug. 13 through Sept. 11. Five winners will be chosen.

The retailer has also designated Saturday, Aug. 10 as Teen Vogue Back-to-School Saturday, a one-day shopping event marketed at the back-to-school crowd. At select Macy’s locations nationwide, consumers can shop will being treated to sweets and music. Shoppers who spend $50 in the Mstylelab department will receive a MINI emergency kit jam-packed with necessities like lip balm, mints and a sewing kit while supplies last. Customers can also enter for a chance to win a trip to New York City, including an mstylelab shopping spree and a style consultation with a “Teen Vogue” Style Expert at teenvogue.com/mstylelab.

Macy’s and Reading Is Fundamental are partnering for the 10th year and deliver its 10 millionth book to children in need through the Be Book Smart campaign. The campaign invites Macy’s customers coast-to-coast to give $3 to help provide a book for a child in their local communities. Now through July 21, customers who make a $3 donation to RIF will receive a coupon for $10 off an in-store purchase of $50 or more, and Macy’s will donate 100% of every $3 ticket to RIF.

Click here to see additional events and promotions that will take place in July.

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Staples shows what its got on social media

BY CSA STAFF

FRAMINGHAM, Mass. — Staples is taking a page from retailers like Macy’s and turning to social media as it gears up for the back-to-school shopping season as it encourages students to follow Staples on Facebook and Twitter with hashtag #StaplesHasIt.

The Back to School Center has an expanded assortment of supplies, including a broader selection of backpacks, dorm room décor and school uniforms through a partnership with French Toast Official School Wear. Students can find about this and other deals by searching for the hashtag or share Facebook posts and re-Tweet using the hashtag — which of course means greater outreach for the retailer.

Staples is also engaging parents and teachers, chiefly via its Reward-a-Classroom program.

“Staples has it all for the back-to-school season, with tremendous savings and a huge selection of products that ranges from essential supplies to the latest technology,” said Demos Parneros, president, North American stores and online, Staples. “Staples supports teachers and with our new Reward-a-Classroom program, we make it easy and affordable for parents and educators to work together to keep the classroom stocked all year long.”

In addition to the 5% in Staples Rewards all members earn, parents can now earn extra rewards for a teacher of their choice when they link their rewards account. When parents participate in Reward-a-Classroom and shop, the teachers they choose receive 5% back in rewards on every Copy & Print purchase and 2% back in rewards on everything else. Teachers can also earn 5% back in rewards on everything, including technology and services, plus an additional 5% back in rewards on teaching and art supplies through the Teacher Rewards program. All rewards members receive free shipping on Staples.com orders, with next day delivery to 98% of the U.S.

“Staples knows how much teachers go above and beyond every day to educate their students, often devoting not only their time and energy, but also personal resources,” said Alison Corcoran, SVP marketing, North American stores and online, Staples. “We’re dedicated to helping teachers save money year round, rewarding them on their everyday purchases, and providing a convenient one-stop shopping experience.”

Staples’ national school supply drive is also underway and will run through Sept. 28. The retailer has teamed up with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and teen actor Jake T. Austin, star of ABC Family’s The Fosters, to help students get the tools they need for school. Staples customers can donate $1 or more at their local Staples store with 100% of the proceeds benefiting local students in need.

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