By Paul Page
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Consumer spending trends suggest this will be far from a traditional holiday season for retailers and logistics companies alike. New figures show retail sales in the U.S. expanded 0.8% in October after a strong 1% gain in September, the WSJ's Josh Mitchell reports, in the best two-month stretch of sales in at least two years. The brisk spending is a strong sign that the economy is picking up steam, with both wages and employment rising. The expansion comes with a wrinkle, however, with sales at department stores and furniture stores falling while sales at "nonstore retailers" -- mostly e-commerce -- jumped 1.5% from September to October and 12.9% year-over-year. Online sales are growing at triple the rate of overall retail sales and the Commerce Department figures show the pace of internet sales growth is accelerating. With more Americans heading online to shop, retailers and logistics operators may have to adjust inventories and operations to e-commerce more than they thought.
The scale of the roller-coaster ride that ports and shippers went through under Hanjin Shipping Co.'s turbulent collapse is becoming clearer. Southern California's big gateways saw a big surge in container shipments in October, with volume rebounding strongly from a weak September, the WSJ reports. The sharp highs and lows at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach came as bankrupt shipping line Hanjin kept ships parked offshore for a time before docking and unloading its vessels under court protection from seizure. The result: a combined 4.9% year-over-year decline in imports in September gave way to a 7.1% bump upward in October. For importers, the big swings amounted to tens of thousands of containers, one measure of the impact Hanjin's messy withdrawal from the market had on retailer supply chains.
China's No. 2 e-commerce company is trying to redraw parts of its business amid persistent losses. JD.com strongly expanded its sales and its active user accounts in the third quarter, but the WSJ's Joshua Jamerson reports the growth came at a steep cost, with net losses nearly doubling from a year ago. The company, which has made its logistics operation a linchpin of its business model, is looking at ways to carve away its internet finance unit in a maneuver that would allow the subsidiary to expand in its home Chinese market. JD.com is one of several internet companies seeking to tap credit demand among consumers and small and medium-size businesses in mainland China. For JD.com, that demand could help finance the investment in business the company really wants -- selling goods online.
SUPPLY CHAIN STRATEGIES
The automotive supply chain is becoming a battleground for fierce competition among some of the world's technology giants. Intel Corp. Chief Executive Officer Brian Krzanich says he plans big new investment in autonomous car technology, the WSJ's Tim Higgins reports, putting his company's computing muscle behind self-driving cars. The message comes as chip companies are positioning themselves to provide the computing power for what quickly are becoming data centers on wheels. The role that Intel, Qualcomm Inc. and Nvidia Corp. have in car manufacturing is growing: Intel's automotive business, which is involved in 30 vehicle programs on the road currently, is slated to increase that number to 49 by 2020 with orders worth $1 billion. That's why manufacturers used to talking about horsepower increasingly are trumpeting processing power, and why industrial supply chains now are handling smaller components with much higher value than traditional auto parts.
IN OTHER NEWS
China's yuan fell to its lowest level against the dollar in nearly eight years. (WSJ)
Prices for foreign goods shipped to the U.S. rose in October. (WSJ)
The U.S. Postal Service reported a wider loss for the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, as package volume growth boosted revenue but led to higher spending. (WSJ)
United Continental Holdings Inc. is postponing delivery of dozens of Boeing Co. jets to trim spending. (WSJ)
Boeing will cut 500 net jobs over four years from its defense and space business in Southern California. (WSJ)
Dick's Sporting Goods Inc. is concerned about high-margin seasonal apparel sales, saying the retailer has not seen "any cold weather to speak of." (WSJ)
Amazon.com Inc. is suing various vendors for allegedly selling counterfeit goods through its web marketplace. (CNBC)
The U.S. Department of Energy awarded Purdue University $5 million to study truck platooning. (Fleet Owner)
Rickmers Maritime missed a bond interest payment and says it may go out of business if lenders don't agree to r estructure the shipping line's debt. (Straits Times)
The move toward cargo volume in passenger plane bellies at the expense of freighters is leaving many airport cargo facilities outdated. (The Loadstar)
An arson fire at an Amazon distribution center in the U.K. is disrupting the flow of goods for some retailers. (Business Insider)
Nearly half the rooftop of the Ikea International A/S 1.25 million-square-foot distribution center outside Chicago will be covered with solar panels. (Chain Store Age)
CVS Pharmacy Inc. is building a 752,259-square-foot distribution center near the Kansas City International Airport. (Business Journals)
A series of lawsuits over fake Egyptian cotton sheets threaten to unravel a key part of India's textile industry. (Bloomberg)
The prospective Great Lakes Basin Transportation says a portion of the railroad near Chicago eventually could carry up to 85 freight trains daily. (Chicago Tribune)
Shipt and grocery chain Harris Teeter are teaming up to deliver wine and beer in North Carolina. (Charlotte Observer)
Paul Page is deputy editor of WSJ Logistics Report. Follow him at @PaulPage, and follow the entire WSJ Logistics Report team: @brianjbaskin, @lorettachao and @EEPhillips_WSJ, and follow the WSJ Logistics Report on Twitter at @WSJLogistics.
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
November 16, 2016 06:52 ET (11:52 GMT)
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