Disruption Report #21: Retailers cutting back on orders, Biden Admin Going After Container Shippers, and more

Retailers Cutting Back on 3rd and 4th Quarter Purchases

We are receiving first reports that some toy retailers are reducing their 3rd and 4th
quarter spending and re-orders. The cutbacks are due to a growing concern that
consumers are spending too freely now and will be short of funds by the fourth quarter.

The overspending, plus ongoing and anticipated price increases, have some toy
companies getting nervous.

Biden Administration Going After Ocean Shipping Companies for Anti-Competitive Pricing

According to a Wall Street Journal article, “Biden to Target Railroads, Ocean Shipping in Executive Order,” the Biden administration is looking into a lack of competitiveness in the shipping industry as the cause of the recent rise in the cost of shipping goods by container ship.

Here is how the article’s author, Ted Mann, puts it:

The administration will ask the Federal Maritime Commission and the Surface Transportation Board to combat what it calls a pattern of consolidation and aggressive pricing that has made it onerously expensive for American companies to transport goods to market.

Let’s hope they move quickly.

60,000 Truck Drives Have Lost Their Commercial Driver’s License

For whatever reason, record numbers of American truck drivers are getting caught using drugs and alcohol while driving. That’s according to a Freightwaves article by John Gallagher entitled, “CDL holders banned from driving due to drugs, alcohol top 60,000.”

Mr. Gallagher writes:

The latest monthly report by the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, administered by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration since January 2020, revealed that 60,299 CDL holders have a drug or alcohol violation recorded in the clearinghouse as of June 1, up from 57,510 as of May 1 and up from 18,860 recorded in the clearinghouse as of May 1, 2020.

That is a tripling of cases in one year. Obviously, truckers are having a hard time handling the pandemic like the rest of us. The only problem is that we don’t have enough drivers as it is. Let’s hope that the relaxing of covid restrictions helps the drivers get healthy and back to work.

People Are Heading Back to Work

The United States added 850,000 employees June. How did they do it; by offering higher wages? That’s good news for American companies that have been struggling to find workers. It is even better news for the workers.

New York Times reporter Patricia Cohen in her article, “U.S. Added 850,000 Jobs in June, and Wages Rose,” provides more good news:

Consumer confidence, which surged in June, is at its highest point since the pandemic’s onset last year. Stocks closed out the first half of the year at record highs. And the Congressional Budget Office said Thursday that the economy was on track to recover all the jobs lost in the pandemic by the middle of next year.

The only fly in the ointment I saw was the news that 343,000 of those jobs occurred in the leisure and hospitality businesses. That is, of course, good news for that industry. The bad news for the toy and consumer products industries was that travel and leisure dollars had been going to purchase toys and other household products. The rise in jobs in leisure and hospitality means that that Americans are spending again on travel. Let’s just hope they continue to spend on consumer goods.

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