04/19/2018

News

Retail Pain Cuts Property-Tax Take

In April, the Indiana Supreme Court handed Kohl’s Corp. a victory when it agreed not to review a lowered property assessment that was awarded to one of Kohl’s stores because of the growing vacancy and dropping values of other shopping centers in its area.

The decision, which translated into a $219,000 refund for Kohl’s, was a sign of the drain to tax revenues resulting from the worsening retail real estate landscape for Howard County, the taxing jurisdiction, as well as other local governments throughout the country.

Retail sales and occupancy rates are falling in many parts of the country, partly due to oversupply of stores and competition with online retail. That has meant lower property values, lower tax collections and—in some cases—less to pay teachers and firefighters.

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Electric vehicle sales rise in California

While new-vehicle registrations fell 1.4% nationally in January through March, California dealers experienced a 0.7% increase in registrations, putting the state on the path for another year of sales exceeding 2 million vehicles.

In the same time frame, 4.8% of new vehicles registered in the Golden State were zero-emission vehicles and plug-in hybrids, the highest share ever recorded.

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U.S. Retail Sales Rose 0.4% in April

Sales at U.S. stores, restaurants and online retailers increased a seasonally adjusted 0.4% in April from the prior month, the largest gain in three months, the Commerce Department said Friday. Also, the University of Michigan reported its consumer-sentiment index rose to 97.7 in early May—the strongest reading since January, when sentiment reached a 13-year high.

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The retail apocalypse is creating a ‘slow-rolling crisis’ that is rippling through the US economy

Since October, about 89,000 workers in general merchandise stores have lost their jobs, which is more than the number of people employed in the entire US coal industry, The New York Times reported. . . The retail industry, which employs about one out of every 10 American workers, typically pays low wages but provides employment to people in every age bracket, as well as those who are low-skilled and need flexible scheduling options.

So when these workers lose their jobs, they can have a hard time finding other employment.

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Is American Retail at a Historic Tipping Point?

The profound reordering of New York’s shopping scene reflects a broad restructuring in the American retail industry.

E-commerce players, led by the industry giant Amazon, have made it so easy and fast for people to shop online that traditional retailers, shackled by fading real estate and a culture of selling in stores, are struggling to compete. This shift has been building gradually for years. But economists, retail workers and real estate investors say it appears that it has sped up in recent months.

Between 2010 and 2014, e-commerce grew by an average of $30 billion annually. Over the past three years, average annual growth has increased to $40 billion.

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Retail sales fall in March, second straight monthly drop

Retail sales fell a seasonally adjusted 0.2% last month, the Commerce Department said Friday, after a revised 0.3% decline in February. But over the last 12 months, retail sales have risen 5.2%, a sign that that the economy remains on stable footing.

Still, there are indications that consumers are growing more cautious even though the unemployment rate declined in March to a low 4.5%. Steady job growth as the recovery from the Great Recession nears its eighth year and a bump in consumer sentiment following President Trump’s presidential election have yet to strengthen spending much.

Since the start of 2017, Americans have actually cut back on purchases at auto dealers and restaurants and bars, two major sources of sales gains in prior years. Sales dipped 1.5% last month at auto dealers and 0.6% at restaurants and bars. It was the second straight monthly drop in sales for both categories.

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Without State Subsideis, Electric Car Sales in Georgia Crash

According to Georgia car registrations, sales shot up as electric car buyers rushed to take advantage of the tax credit before it expired. But the numbers declined sharply in July and took a swan dive in August — the most recent month tabulated.

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After Raising Wages, Walmart Slashes Hours

The cost of that wage increase has been estimated at more than $1 billion, and it seems as though the retailer is offsetting that cost with cuts to employee hours. The reductions began weeks ago, during the busy back-to-school shopping period.

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Gov. Brown Signs Job Protections for Grocery Workers

Business groups opposed the bill, arguing that it would force a company to keep its predecessor’s employees and adhere to contracts that the new owner did not negotiate. The California Chamber of Commerce labeled the measure, AB 359, a “job killer.”

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Tesla Owners Frustrated by Recharge Waits

. . . use of the chargers is included in the price of a Tesla, and advertised as being “free for life.” While many of its rivals spend big money on advertising, Tesla has invested millions of dollars in charging stations meant to be an extra incentive for buyers to consider its pricey electric car.

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Grocery Workers Job Protection Bill Passes California Assembly

Assembly Bill 359, which passed 42-26, bars stores from firing workers for non-performance reasons within 90 days of a merger or buyout. After that grace period expires stores would need to conduct performance reviews to help decide whether to keep the employees.

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US Retail Sales Disappoint Again

Retail sales barely budged in April, confounding projections for a small increase, figures from the Commerce Department showed Wednesday. That followed a 0.2 percent drop from January through March that marked the first quarterly decline in almost three years.

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US Consumer Spending Tepid; Savings at Two-Year High

U.S. consumer spending barely rose in February as households used the windfall from lower gasoline prices to boost savings to the highest level in more than two years, the latest sign that the economy hit a soft patch in the first quarter.

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Labor Fight Cuts into Long Beach Cargo Numbers

The amount of cargo that moved through the Port of Long Beach in January took a nearly 19 percent nosedive compared to the same month last year because of ongoing congestion and labor strife, officials said late Wednesday.

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Port Labor Dispute Costing California

The labor dispute between West Coast ports and the longshormen’s union is having an effect on the California economy. Nick Vyas directs the Center for Global Supply Chain Management at the University of Southern California. He estimates California has lost between a half billion and a billion dollars since the port labor dispute began. And he says state leaders should take an active role in trying to end the dispute.

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