FINANCE

U.S. retail sales dropped 2% in May

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — U.S. retail sales declined in April and May, pulled down by a sharp 2.2% drop in gas stations sales in both months, the Commerce Department said Wednesday.

But excluding volatile gas station sales, retail sales increased only modestly in May and dipped in April.

Total retail sales fell in April to $404.6 billion, slightly below March’s record level of $406.2 billion and 21.6% higher than the recession low hit in March 2009.

Excluding gas station sales, retail spending rose just 0.1% in May. And retail sales dropped 0.1% in April after a revision by the government.

Americans did spend more in May on big purchases. Sales of cars, furniture and appliances all increased.

Other findings from the May retail sales figures include:

  • Clothing and clothing accessories stores’ sales increased 0.9%, seasonally adjusted month-to-month and increased 7.3% unadjusted year-over-year;
  • Electronics and appliance stores’ sales increased 0.8% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 1.2% unadjusted year over-year;
  • Furniture and home furnishing stores’ sales increased 0.4%m seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 11.4% unadjusted year-over-year;
  • Health and personal care stores’ sales decreased 0.1% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month but increased 3.1% unadjusted year-over-year; and
  • Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores’ sales decreased 0.1% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month but increased 9.1% unadjusted year-over-year.
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News

OfficeMax launches eco-friendly business delivery service

BY CSA STAFF

NAPERVILLE, Ill. — OfficeMax has launched a new delivery program that reuses and recycles boxes it uses for deliveries to business customers. The new program – Boomerang Box by OfficeMax – is projected to reduce box consumption by 80% among participating businesses.

Boomerang Box by OfficeMax launches this month in Seattle, and will expand nationwide in the second half of 2012. Business participation in the program is free and voluntary for all customers nationwide that are served through OfficeMax’s delivery fleet. The program is also designed for easy use to encourage widespread adoption.

"Every business wants to support more environmentally sustainable practices," said Sue Mills, director, environmental practices at OfficeMax. "With Boomerang Box we’re giving customers an easy, no-cost way to help do that."

Businesses that participate in the Boomerang Box program will have their office supplies delivered by OfficeMax in reusable, stackable delivery boxes that are made from a minimum of 50 percent post-consumer content. Customers need only to save and stack the boxes for OfficeMax’s fleet to pickup with the next order delivery. The cycle continues until the boxes can no longer be reused. Then, OfficeMax will recover the boxes for recycling.

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SUPPLY CHAIN

Retail container imports expected to rise 4.8% in June

BY Marianne Wilson

Washington, D.C. — Import cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports is expected to increase 4.8% in June compared with the same month last year, and year-over-year increases are expected to continue into the holiday season shipping cycle, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released today by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.


“Retail sales have seen 22 straight months of year-over-year sales increases, and these import projections suggest retailers should see growth into the two-year mark and beyond,” NRF VP for supply chain and customs policy Jonathan Gold said. “Cargo numbers don’t correlate directly into sales numbers, but they are an indicator of how much retailers think they can sell.”


U.S. ports followed by Global Port Tracker handled 1.23 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) in April, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was 3.9% from March and 1.5% from April 2011. (One TEU is one 20-ft. cargo container or its equivalent.)

May was estimated at 1.29 million TEU, up 0.5% from a year ago, and June is forecast at 1.31 million TEU, up 4.8% from the same time last year. July is forecast at 1.36 million TEU, up 2.5%; August at 1.42 million TEU, up 7.3%; September at 1.45 million TEU, up 9%, and October at 1.53 million TEU, up 19.9% over unusually low numbers last year.

The first half of 2012 should total 7.3 million TEU, up 2% from the same period last year. The total for 2011 was 14.8 million TEU, up 0.4% from 2010’s 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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