OPERATIONS

Uniqlo keeps checkout line moving with queuing system

BY Staff Writer

New York City — Uniqlo, the fast-growing apparel retailer from Japan, has implemented queue management systems from Lawrence, a Tensator Group Company, at its two new flagships in New York City (Fifth Avenue and 34th Street).

The custom-designed sleek, stainless steel Tensabarrier guidance system is designed to echo the ultra-modern store interior while helping guide customers easily through the checkout process and increase efficiencies in customer flow.

“The entire store is designed with customer service in mind,” said Shin Odake, Uniqlo USA CEO. “The custom Tensabarriers allow our associates to check out customers in a quick and efficient manner. We don’t like to have long lines in our stores as it’s just not in the best interest of our customers.”

Both new Manhattan locations have three floors with separate cash register banks. Uniqlo leverages the fixed custom designed stainless steel Tensabarrier post and oval beams to help guide and speed customers to the next available register attendant.

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SUPPLY CHAIN

Retail container traffic to decline in November

BY Staff Writer

Washington, D.C. — With most holiday season merchandise already on its way to store shelves, import cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports has started to decline for the fall, and November is forecast at 1.9% below the same month last year, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released Tuesday by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.

“As always, retailers are being very strategic with their supply chains,” said Jonathan Gold, VP supply chain and customs policy for the NRF. “Although sales are expected to be in line with the 10-year average, retailers are keeping inventory levels extremely lean and filling their stores wall-to-wall with discounts and promotions. Unlike in 2008, when the financial crisis caught everyone off-guard, retailers have a strong understanding of the consumer mind-set this Christmas.”

U.S. ports followed by Global Port Tracker handled 1.33 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEU) in September, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was up 0.4% from August and made September the busiest month of the year as retailers rushed to stock stores for the holidays, but was down 0.6% from September 2010. One TEU is one 20-ft. cargo container or its equivalent.

The total for 2011 is forecast at 14.76 million TEU, just slightly above the 2010 total of 14.75 million TEU.

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

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REAL ESTATE

New Era to open Chicago flagship

BY Staff Writer

Buffalo, N.Y. — New Era announced it will open its 10th flagship, in the heart of downtown Chicago. The two-level, 4,500-sq.-ft. store, New Era’s largest location to date, will sell licensed and New Era branded headwear, apparel and accessories for men, women and kids. The brand is best known for being the official on-field cap for Major League Baseball.

This is New Era’s first owned and operated retail presence in the Midwest. Chicago will serve as a test market for new retail formats the brand is rolling out. Following the large-scale flagship, the brand will open numerous locations comprised of smaller company stores and outlets throughout the greater Chicagoland area though 2013.

"The blend of sport culture, art and fashion in Chicago offers New Era a perfect testing ground for new retail formats. Our extended presence in the market offers us several major touch points to connect to our evolving consumer base," said Cal Lawson, director of retail operations.

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