Empty container movements signal freight shift to the East Coast

Like a pendulum that reached its maximum height in one direction that has begun to accelerate towards equilibrium, volumes of empty containers are shifting to the East Coast over the past few weeks.

The number of empty containers moving into the Elizabeth New Jersey market over the past two weeks has almost tripled, while inbound empties moving to the Los Angeles market has dropped 46%. Pair that with the fact outbound Los Angeles trucking volumes have dropped approximately 14% since the start of November, it seems the country’s capacity is in need of re-balancing. The question to ask is whether this is a proactive or reactive move to import behaviors by the large shipping companies and what does this mean for domestic freight.

Continue reading “Empty container movements signal freight shift to the East Coast”

Thanksgiving Day shopping frenzy tops record with $4.1B spent

Shoppers on Thursday weren’t slowed down one bit by their huge turkey feasts.

Consumers spent a staggering $4.2 billion online on Thanksgiving, a 14.5 percent from last year and a record high, according to new figures published by Adobe Analytics on Friday. This marks the first time that Thanksgiving shopping has surpassed $4 billion.

In total, e-commerce behemoths saw a 244 percent boost in sales on Thanksgiving, while smaller retailers experienced a 61 percent jump.

Phones played a huge role in the spike in Turkey Day shopping: Overall, nearly half of the revenue — 44.9 percent — stemmed from people’s smartphones, a 24.4 increase over last year.

“Thanksgiving … has fast become a favored day by consumers for accelerating their holiday spending and shopping efforts,” Jason Woosley, vice president of commerce and platform at Adobe, said in a statement. “Don’t expect the momentum to slow down anytime soon.”

Black Friday sales are on track to hit $7.4 billion; as of 9 a.m. ET on Friday, shoppers already spent $600 million online, representing a 19.2 percent increase from last year.

The full holiday season — which is six days shorter than is typical, because Thanksgiving fell on the fourth Thursday in November, the last possible date it could be — is expected to bring in $143.7 billion in online spending. That’s a 14.1 percent increase compared to 2018.

Boscov’s, the largest family-owned department store chain in America, saw “very healthy” sales increases on Thursday evening and Friday, CEO Jim Boscov told FOX Business.

The company, which has more than four-dozen stores across the mid-Atlantic, has worked hard to shield shoppers from rising costs, a result of the billions of dollars stemming from the U.S.-China trade war.

“So much of the year’s business is done in these few weeks” that it’s important to limit price increases in the period as much as possible, Boscov said. Some of the levies could be avoided by placing orders before they took effect, he said, and suppliers sometimes absorbed the impact if their profit margin was sufficient.

CONTINUE @ FOX

Target’s apparel sales are on fire. And that’s bad news for everyone else

While Walmart is finding strength in grocery, Target is finding it in apparel.

The retailer said the apparel category reaped the most “dramatic” market share gains in the latest quarter, when it reported earnings on Wednesday. It said apparel sales were up more than 10%, which also helped strengthen Target’s profit margins.

Clearly, Target’s efforts to get back to being known as “cheap chic” are working.

In the fashion department, it has refreshed stores to make individual brands look more like their own mini boutiques, with more mannequins and table displays showing off merchandise. It has launched dozens of in-house apparel brands over the past three years, such as “A New Day” for women, “Auden” for lingerie and Goodfellow & Co. for men. They’re all reasonably priced, with guys’ winter sweaters selling for under $30 and a women’s party skirt for $27.99.

Notably, Target is succeeding at a time when others are struggling to sell clothes.

Teen apparel retailer Forever 21 has filed for bankruptcy. And Kohl’s, when it reported earnings Tuesday, said women’s apparel was its weakest category during the period. Gap’s brands, including what had been its fast-growing Old Navy label, are struggling. Dressbarn is wrapping up liquidation sales at its remaining stores. Amazon keeps trying to grow in fashion but has struggled to persuade shoppers to buy more than basic apparel from its site.

“I think our commitment to our new store operating model, where we have dedicated business owners in that apparel category … is really driving great results,” Target CEO Brian Cornell said on a post-earnings call with analysts. “The combination of the work we’ve done with our own brand assortment, adding some new national brands like Levi’s in select stores, the service that we’re delivering in store, and the inspiration we’re creating online has really come together.”

CONTINUE @ CNBC

Audi to Cut 9,500 Jobs to Boost Profit

Volkswagen AG VLKAF subsidiary Audi AG has reached an agreement with its work council to lay off up to 9,500 employees by 2025, the company announced on Tuesday.

‘Demographic Curve’

The cuts will mostly happen “along the demographic curve” –  through employee turnover or an early-retirement program.

Audi said that the layoffs would save the company $6.6 billion that it will use for “electrification” and “digitalization” in its future projects.

The luxury carmaker plans to create 2,000 new “expert position” for electric vehicles. It will prioritize filling these positions from within the company and look outward to fill any remaining roles.

Work Council Enforces Favorable Terms For Employees

As the Wall Street Journal noted, Germany’s laws require companies to fill half of the non-executive supervisory board with non-management level employees — giving them a better bargaining position when it comes to job cutting.

The terms that the Audi’s Work Council agreed to require Audi to guarantee that there would be no layoffs in the next ten years, i.e., until November 29, 2029.

CONTINUE @ BENZINGA

Mercedes-Benz owner Daimler to cut 10,000 jobs worldwide

Luxury automaker Daimler said Friday it would scrap at least 10,000 jobs worldwide, the latest in a wave of layoffs to hit the stuttering German car industry as it battles with a costly switch to electric.

The Mercedes-Benz maker said it wanted to save 1.4 billion euros ($1.5 billion) in staff costs by the end of 2022 as it joins rivals in investing huge sums in the greener, smarter cars of the future.

“The total number worldwide will be in the five-digits,” Daimler personnel chief Wilfried Porth said in a conference call about the job cull.

He declined to give a more detailed breakdown.

The group said in an earlier statement that “thousands” of jobs would be axed by the end of 2022, after clinching a deal with labour representatives.

The cull includes slashing management jobs “by 10 percent”, Daimler said, reportedly amounting to some 1,100 positions around the world.

“The automotive industry is in the middle of the biggest transformation in its history,” Daimler said.

“The development towards CO2-neutral mobility requires large investments,” it added.

Along with other manufacturers, Daimler is scrambling to get ready for tough new EU emission rules taking effect next year, forcing it to accelerate the costly shift to zero-emissions electric cars and plug-in hybrids.

The group, which employs 304,000 people globally, said the job cuts would be achieved through natural turnover, early retirement schemes and severance packages.

CONTINUE @ IBT

Cable Execs Now Falsely Claiming Cord Cutting Is Slowing Down

At no point has the cable industry or its executives been particularly keyed in to the “cord cutting” threat. As streaming video has chipped away at their subscriber bases, most cable giants like Spectrum and Comcast have responded by raising prices. And when confronted by growing evidence that cord cutting (defined as cutting the TV cord but keeping broadband) was a growing trend, most of these same executives spent years first denying cord cutting was happening, then trying to claim the only people doing so were lame man-children living in their moms’ basements.

Charter CEO Tom Rutledge was a key part of this cable executive myopia, both failing to see the trend coming, then failing utterly to respond to it in any meaningful way. The result: Charter has been losing subscribers for years, last quarter losing 75,000 cable TV customers. That’s not as bad as the 1.36 million pay TV customers lost by AT&T in the same period, but it’s not what you’d advertise as “good,” either.

Having no meaningful reputation on this subject to stand on, Rutledge last week tried to insist that the threat of users cancelling bloated, costly pay TV bundles and moving to streaming was a phenomenon that would soon slow down:

“I think in aggregate they’re going to slow down,” said Rutledge. “Because I think most single-family homes have big TVs in them and that’s where you get sports, that’s where you get news, that’s where you get live TV like this. It’s still going to be under price pressure. I’m not saying the category isn’t under pressure. But I think the rate of decline will slow.”

But there’s no actual evidence to support that conclusion. Cord cutting has only been accelerating and breaking records throughout 2019. And with a number of high profile streaming alternatives like Disney+ and Apple TV+ having launched this month, there’s absolutely no indication that trend is going to change. That’s something being made clear at research firms like UBS, which is actually predicting that things will be getting slightly better for AT&T, and marginally worse for cable giants like Charter:

CONTINUE @ TECH DIRT

Alert: #Iran’s largest mobile network operators including MCI, Rightel and IranCell have fallen offline as of 6:00 pm (14:30 UTC) amid worsening internet shutdowns as protests intensify #IranProtests

Microsoft hires Eric Holder to audit AnyVision over use of facial recognition on Palestinians

Microsoft has hired former United States Attorney General Eric Holder to conduct an audit of facial recognition company AnyVision to determine whether it complies with Microsoft’s ethical principles on how the biometric surveillance technology should be used.

Microsoft’s venture capital arm, M12, invested in AnyVision as part of a $74 million Series A funding round in June. Under the terms of the deal, Microsoft stipulated that AnyVision should comply with its six ethical principles to guide its facial recognition work: fairness, transparency, accountability, nondiscrimination, notice and consent, and lawful surveillance.

The last principle states, “We will advocate for safeguards for people’s democratic freedoms in law enforcement surveillance scenarios and will not deploy facial recognition technology in scenarios that we believe will put these freedoms at risk.”

AnyVision, headquartered in Israel, sells an “advanced tactical surveillance” software system, Better Tomorrow. It lets customers identify individuals and objects in any live camera feed, such as a security camera or smartphone, and then track targets as they move between different feeds.

NBC News reported in October that according to five sources familiar with the matter, AnyVision’s technology has powered a secret military surveillance project that has monitored Palestinians in the West Bank. The project was so successful that AnyVision won Israel’s top defense price in 2018 for preventing “hundreds of terror attacks” using “large amounts of data.”

Human rights activist argued that AnyVision’s work monitoring Palestinians in the West Bank was incompatible with its public statements about ethical standards for facial recognition technology.

“AnyVision’s facial recognition technology is not being used for surveillance in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip, and AnyVision would not allow its technology to be used for that purpose,” said AnyVision in a statement issued to NBC News last month.

CONTINUE @ CNBC

Startpage Search owner changes raise serious questions

Startpage announced on September 28, 2019 on the official Startpage blog that Privacy One Group Ltd has made an investment in Startpage.com. The announcement revealed that the relationship between the two groups started in January 2019 and that Startpage will continue to deliver “quality, unbiased search results while respecting online privacy and never storing consumer data” going forward.

The Internet has little information about Privacy One Group Ltd.  A Limited companies search returns no hits and most information that is available online has been published after the Startpage announcement.

startpage privacy one group

Startpage revealed in the press release that Privacy One Group Ltd is owned by System1; that fact and the lack of information surrounding Privacy One Group Ltd caused uncertainty and confusion.

A search for System1 returns more information. The company operates out of London and it becomes clear quickly that it is an advertising company.

At System1 we use behavioural and marketing science to help brands and marketers achieve profitable growth with zero waste. Our systems produce outcomes, not just insights, and our solutions are based in the fast and easy decisions people make every day.

To summarize: an advertising company (System1) has a “separate operating unit” that focuses on user privacy (Privacy One Group) that acquired a stake (how much) of the privacy focused search engine Startpage.

It is clear that such a scenario would raise questions. What is Privacy One Group Ltd all about? How much control do the original owners of Startpage still have over the company and the decision making processes? Does System1 benefit in any way?

These questions have not been answered.

Privacytools.io delisted Startpage after trying to get answers; this means that the service no longer recommends Startpage. PrivacyTools notes in the announcement that it has no evidence of Startpage violating its privacy policies and that the decision was based on a number of unanswered questions and Startpage’s evasive behavior in regards to these questions.

In particular, PrivacyTools wants to know:

  • The percentage of stakes that System1 / Privacy One Group Ltd acquired from Surfboard Holding B.V.
  • The current percentage of ownership by System1.
  • Information about Privacy One Group Ltd including its corporate structure, country of registration and operation.
  • Data flow diagrams to indicate which data flows to outside organizations.

CONTINUE @ GH HACKS

1 in 5 CEOs are psychopaths…

“For psychopaths,  it [corporate success] is a game and they don’t mind if they violate morals. It is about getting where they want in the company and having dominance over others.”

The global financial crisis in 2008 has prompted researchers to study workplace traits that may have allowed a corporate culture in which unethical behaviour was able to flourish.

Mr Brooks’s research, conducted with a colleague from Australia’s Bond University and a researcher from the University of San Diego, was based on a study of corporate professionals in the supply chain management industry across the US.

The findings, presented on Tuesday at the Australian Psychological Society Congress in Melbourne, are due to be published in the European Journal of Psychology.

The researchers have been examining ways to help employers screen for potential psychopaths.

“We hope to implement our screening tool in businesses so that there’s an adequate assessment to hopefully identify this problem – to stop people sneaking through into positions in the business that can become very costly,” Mr Brooks said.

CONTINUE @ TELEGRAPH