By Paul Page
Sign up: With one click, get this newsletter delivered to your inbox.
Grocers and restaurants want consumers, not delivery drivers, to handle the last mile as online business surges. The sweeping changes in sales patterns driven by coronavirus lockdowns have created a vast test in online fulfillment for the food sector, and the WSJ's Heather Haddon and Jaewon Kang report that businesses now are building out services for customer pickup operations that offer better margins than delivery. Several major grocers are waiving pickup fees and expanding spaces to fill orders while several restaurant chains and standalone dining spots are sticking with the curbside pickup that has become a lifeline for them. Some are trying to wrest control of their online orders away from food-delivery apps that come with hefty, profit-shrinking fees. But the push toward pickup is a reminder that despite big investment in last-mile services in the logistics sector, the costs and complications remain daunting for many businesses.
SUPPLY CHAIN STRATEGIES
The growing inventory stockpiles at clothing companies are turning into a financial drag for retailers. Clothing companies, including Columbia Sportswear Co., Ralph Lauren and Urban Outfitters Inc., have taken millions of dollars in what is often referred to as inventory obsolescence charges, the WSJ's Kristin Broughton reports, even as many are activating plans for selling out-of-season clothing at the highest-possible price. Those include selling through outlet stores and holding excess inventory to sell later, potentially even next year. The inventories soared after stores closed under lockdown orders aimed at stemming the spread of the coronavirus. Columbia Sportswear was holding 11% more inventory at the end of March than a year ago and took a $9.2 million charge. It plans to hold some for sale next year but will clear most of its shelves by selling through off-price outlet stores, an unlikely path for its main branded merchandise.
ECONOMY & TRADE
U.S. importers of European wine are bracing for a bitter financial harvest. The Trump administration is considering raising the 25% tariffs on wine, cheeses, olives and other European Union products to 100%, the WSJ's Josh Zumbrun reports, and corporate buyers of European wine say that would devastate businesses that have been floored by months of lockdowns. One South Carolina wine importer says he was knocked back by a $24,000 tariff tab on a shipment that arrived at the Port of Charleston as he sought to stock up for post-pandemic business. For drinks importers, mitigating the tariffs is a challenge because of a thicket of rules and regulations over wholesale distribution that can leave few options on how to respond. That's a blow to a sector pummeled by the coronavirus lockdowns, with upticks from e-commerce or grocery sales more than offset by the shuttering of bars and restaurants.
IN OTHER NEWS
The number of U.S. workers seeking jobless benefits remains steady at a historically high level. (WSJ)
President Trump ordered a payment program to help lobster producers amid trade tensions that have slashed U.S. exports. (WSJ)
China is tightening restrictions on food imports as it seeks to stave off a coronavirus resurgence but is meeting resistance from governments of major food exporters. (WSJ)
The owners of Hin Leong Trading claim unfair treatment after a report alleged serious accounting irregularities at the distressed-energy trader. (WSJ)
The U.S. imposed sanctions on five Iranian ship captains for allegedly helming blacklisted ships to deliver gasoline from Iran to Venezuela. (WSJ)
Pakistan International Airlines grounded 150 of its pilots after the government said nearly a third of the country's pilots had fraudulent licenses. (WSJ)
Bain Capital agreed to buy insolvent airline Virgin Australia. (WSJ)
Nike's quarterly sales fell 38% but a 75% rise in digital sales helped cushion the decline. (WSJ)
Macy's is laying off roughly 3,900 corporate staffers on expectations of only a gradual recovery from the pandemic. (WSJ)
Chuck E. Cheese parent CEC Entertainment filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. (WSJ)
Albertsons Cos. priced its initial public offering below expectations and existing shareholders sold fewer shares than planned. (WSJ)
Prologis is preparing to dispose of 22 U.K. logistics properties in what's projected to be the largest warehouse sale ever in Britain. (The Times)
Apple added 14 stores in Florida to the outlets it is shutting due to the surge in coronavirus cases. (Reuters)
Amazon and Flipkart will compel online merchants in India to display country-of-origin labels, amid high tensions between India and China. (Bloomberg)
Earnings for smaller crude tankers are tumbling as oil exports decline and inventories remain elevated. (Lloyd's List)
The South Carolina Port Authority approved funding to start building a container terminal at the Port of Charleston. (Port Technology)
Freight rail traffic in Central Asia was suspended through the end of June because of congestion on Asia-Europe routes. (Railfreight)
An equipment shortage is driving up spot rates for some freight rail transport from Southern California. (Journal of Commerce)
DHL Express is adding about 400 workers to its U.S. operations. (Logistics Management)
Midwestern supermarket chain Schnuck Markets will use mobile logistics app Foodshed.io to connect to small, locally-owned farms. (Supermarket News)
Paul Page is editor of WSJ Logistics Report. Follow the WSJ Logistics Report team: @PaulPage , @jensmithWSJ and @CostasParis. Follow the WSJ Logistics Report on Twitter at @WSJLogistics.
Write to Paul Page at email@example.com