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Retailers Pay More To Get Cargo (No Guarantee) - U.s.

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http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/27/business/global/27shipping.html?_r=1&ref=business

The grills shaped like kegs and toolboxes, ordered for a Father’s Day promotion at Cost Plus World Market, arrived too late for the holiday. At the Container Store, platinum-color hangers, advertised in a summer sale catalog, were delivered days after the sale began. At True Value Hardware, the latecomers were fans and portable chairs.

Fighting for freight, retailers are outbidding each other to score scarce cargo space on ships, paying two to three times last year’s freight rates — in some cases, the highest rates in five years. And still, many are getting merchandise weeks late.

The problems stem from 2009, when stores slashed inventory. With little demand for shipping, ocean carriers took ships out of service: more than 11 percent of the global shipping fleet was idle in spring 2009, according to AXS-Alphaliner, an industry consultant.

Carriers also moved to “slow steaming,” traveling at slower and more fuel-efficient speeds, while the companies producing containers, the typically 20- or 40-foot boxes in which most consumer companies ship goods, essentially stopped making them.

“All my customers, they’re having a terrible time,” said Steven L. Horton, principal at Horton Global Strategies, which negotiates freight contracts for companies. “With the increased cost and them not knowing if they’re even going to get the space or equipment, it’s a weekly battle.”

Retailers and suppliers like Mattel, Polo Ralph Lauren, Jones Apparel Group, Costco, the VF Corporation, Big Lots and Lifetime Brands have reported being hit with higher prices and capacity shortages.

The fight for space means many retailers are expecting higher sales, which is a glimmer of good news. And air carriers are picking up some last-minute shipments from desperate retailers; FedEx reported on Monday that it expected increased earnings for its first quarter, ending next month.

But for most retailers and suppliers, the shipping problems are a huge headache at a time when retail sales are weak and consumer confidence is waning. “It’s made this key selling season even more complicated,” said Edward J. Yruma, an analyst with KeyBanc Capital Markets.

The shipping companies slowly added ships back into the system early this year, but they did so haltingly, not wanting to add too much supply and risk having their rates fall. (Major carriers largely hew to the rates set by carrier groups, which are allowed to discuss and set voluntary rates, under antitrust immunity.) Lifetime Brands, which makes and sells products under brand names like Cuisinart and KitchenAid, said it was now paying about double last year’s rates, and Costco said it was now back to 2007 rates.

This article doesn't make much sense in one paragraph they are saying many retailers are expecting higher sales and then in the next paragraph we have retails sales are weak and consumer confidence is waning.

The paradoxical recovery?

Have shops cut inventory too much and are now unable to restock quick enough as the lack of shipping has caused a bottle neck?

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  • 245 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%



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