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Industry Dashboard for June 20, 2011

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Housing starts, with nowhere to go but up, showed month-to-month improvement in May. Gas prices have retreated about 25 cents per gallon compared with a month ago.

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Readers Respond to medical marijuana and the home business

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Two news items last week — here and here — pointed to the potential for sales of medicinal marijuana-related products. Here’s what we heard from readers. 

"For many years I believe that this market has not only been overlooked but is very lucrative, and for the life of me I cannot understand how anyone could miss the opportunity for growth (pardon the pun) in this market."
— Lynn Davis
Sebastopol, Calif.
 

"I believe this is a dishonest way of making pot legal and circumventing the Feds.

The states are tired of arresting pot smokers and sending them to jail. We tie up our court systems, which are really needed for higher crimes. We also tie up tax dollars that could be spent on something better. We have lost the war on drugs, and that is no joke. Billions have been spent to win this battle, or should I say this lost cause. It is not that I agree with this plan. I have never smoked pot, but those in charge today I bet most of them have and still do."
— John Stokes 

"I would love to investigate this as a new category. Historically you can watch the social, regulatory and legal trends begin in California and sweep across the nation. Getting on board now will only keep up with the market, but help form it as well."
— Jennifer L. Andrew
VP business development
Cambridge Resources
 

"It’s not appropriate at all."
— Ed Deiss
White Bear Lake, Minn.
 

"Yes, it is about time the medical marijuana community is treated with respect. Great opportunities for helping people and increases legitimate business and tax revenue."
— Name withheld 

"Certainly an appropriate category. The stuff should be legalized anyway — and taxed to death."
— Mark Peterson

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Retail container traffic almost flat through July

BY Brae Canlen

Import cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports is expected to remain at about the same levels as last year through July before starting to resume increases later this summer, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates.

“With rising gas prices and challenges in the labor and housing markets, consumer spending has slowed and retailers have adjusted their inventory levels accordingly,” said the NRF’s VP supply chain and customs policy Jonathan Gold. “We are confident long-term consumer demand will grow and that imports will pick up significantly in the fall.” 

U.S. ports followed by Global Port Tracker handled 1.22 million 20-ft. Equivalent Units in April, the latest month for which numbers are available. (One TEU is one 20-ft. cargo container or its equivalent.) That was up 12% from March and 7% from April 2010. It was the 17th month in a row to show a year-over-year improvement after December 2009 broke a 28-month streak of year-over-year declines. 

May was estimated at 1.27 million TEU, only one-third of 1% over May 2010. June is forecast at 1.33 million TEU, a 1% increase from a year ago; July at 1.39 million TEU, up one-half of 1% from last year; August at 1.47 million TEU, up 3%; September at 1.49 million TEU, up 12%; and October at 1.54 million TEU, up 19%. August through October are traditionally the busiest months of the year as retailers stock up for the holiday season.

The first half of 2011 is forecast at 7.2 million TEU, up 5% from the first half of 2010. Global Port Tracker forecasts only six months beyond actual numbers, so a forecast for the full year is not yet available. Imports during 2010 totaled 14.7 million TEU, a 16% increase over 2009.

“2011 is turning out to be an uncertain year for shipping,” Hackett Associates founder Ben Hackett said. “The good news for the coming few months is that inventories are too low, which will generate shipping demand as the supply chain moves to re-stock, albeit cautiously.”

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